The family of a Wisconsin man is accusing a county jail of neglect and failing to follow protocol while he committed suicide in his cell.
Brieon Green’s family and attorneys held a press conference after watching surveillance footage from the day he died. They had been pushing to review the video since he killed himself in June.
The footage shows a jail guard walking by Green’s cell while he was strangling himself with an “anti-suicide” phone cord, they said. The officer was completing a cell check.
“I could not believe my eyes and could not believe that there was a gross negligence with the complete indifference to a human life that took place at this facility,” said attorney B’iVory LaMarr outside of the Milwaukee County Jail Thursday.
Green was arrested on June 26 for carrying a concealed handgun, felony bail jumping and misdemeanor charges. He was also charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Reports show the 21-year-old took his life 28 minutes after he was booked.
“The purpose of a cell check is, No. 1, identify the cell to check on the well-being of the inmate, and that completely was not done,” LaMarr said.
“It was something too pressing. It was something more important for that deputy on that occasion in which he did not even take two seconds to look through the cell to check on the well-being of Brieon Green while he was in the middle of the course of strangling himself with the phone cord.”
Green’s body “dips down and shifts immediately after” the deputy passes his cell, the attorney added.
Green had a mental illness and had shown signs of “suicidal ideation” when he was in custody before, which jail staffers seem to ignore, LaMarr said. His family previously told reporters he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was younger.
“They completely failed to follow the protocols and adhere to the standard operating procedures that are purposely put in place not only to protect Brieon Green but to protect us all,” the attorney said.
TMJ4 News reports that the Milwaukee County Jail had been experiencing staff shortages over the summer. The jail’s budget calls for hiring 251 correction employees, but 125 were on staff during the summer. The facility is managed by the Milwaukee Sheriff’s Office.
The office turned an investigation into Green’s death over to the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department because it could not conduct its own internal probe. Waukesha sent its findings to the district attorney’s office for review last month, reports show.
“The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing this matter. As is customary in these cases, the evidence will be made more widely available after our review is complete,” the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement on Thursday.
The county jail reported four in-custody deaths between January 2020 and April 2021, three of them were investigated as suicides, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Milwaukee County Supervisor Ryan Clancy told the paper in a Dec. 1 interview that he was dissatisfied with the level of detail and the level of access that he and the supervisors have to independently review conditions at the jail.
LaMarr said the family’s legal team is conducting a full investigation and exploring legal options in response to the incident. The family is also being represented by prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and attorney John Maurice.
Green’s mother and sister were too distraught to speak on Thursday. LaMarr said that what they witnessed was the “traumatic demise” of Green, which was “deeply disturbing” and “completely preventable.”
The family had been seeking answers about the man’s death for months. They also demanded a second autopsy, which was paid for by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s initiative that covers secondary autopsies for families whose loved ones died in police-related incidents.
Green’s aunt, Monique Brewer, spoke on the family’s behalf Thursday.
“It could have been prevented,” she said. “Somebody was standing right outside the door — right outside the door and didn’t even look at him.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a crisis, please reach out immediately to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. These services are free and confidential.