Anniston City Jail inmate dies in custody; suicide cause, says coroner
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Feb 21, 2014 | 17211 views |  0 comments | 84 84 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An Anniston City Jail inmate died Friday after he apparently hung himself in his cell, officials said.

Jeffrey Russell, 52, of Alexandria was pronounced dead at the jail at 9:40 a.m. Friday morning, said Calhoun County Coroner Pat Brown.

“It was a suicide that was by hanging,” Brown said. “No foul play is suspected.”

Anniston police Capt. Allen George said corrections officers found Russell unresponsive in his cell around 9 a.m. Friday.

George said he could not release any other details about the death citing the continuing investigation.

“All that’s under investigation at this time,” George said.

Russell was arrested by Anniston police at 12:54 p.m. Thursday, George said. Russell.

Court records indicate Russell pleaded guilty in July 2011 to two charges of negotiating with a worthless negotiable instrument, the legal term for writing a bad check. He was sentenced to two years in jail and ordered to pay $20,299 in restitution, but was released on condition he make $2,000 monthly restitution payments.

Those records also indicate Russell broke the terms of his probation when he stopped making those payments.

The Covington County Sheriff's Office issued two warrants for Russell’s arrest on that violation on March 25, 2013.

Anniston City Manager Brian Johnson said Friday he could not speak about whether proper procedures were followed during Russell’s incarceration, and he could not discuss the death until the investigation is complete.

“I just can’t comment on an investigation that’s still open,” Johnson said. “It’s an ongoing investigation. We’re taking it very seriously.”

Asked if proper procedures were followed during Russell’s incarceration, police Chief Shane Denham said investigators are still working to determine what occurred.

“We’re still currently interviewing jailers and watching videotapes,” Denham said. “It’s going to take some time to sort through it, but all indications are the gentleman just, unfortunately, took his life.”

If the investigation finds that procedures need to be changed to prevent such an incident, Denham said changes would be made.

“That’s why we look at each and every incident, no matter how serious or simple it is,” Denham said. “If we find something that we could do better or should do better of course we want to do that.”

Russell’s body was to be taken Friday afternoon to the Department of Forensic Sciences Lab in Huntsville for an autopsy, Brown said.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter
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