UPDATE: IN-CUSTODY DEATH INVESTIGATION AT DETENTION FACILITY
Durham, N.C. – Sheriff Mike Andrews has decided to request the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) assume jurisdiction over the investigation of the apparent suicide of Uniece Glenae Fennell, 17, at the Durham County Detention Facility. Detainee Euniece Glenae Fennell, 17, apparently committed suicide Thursday, March 23 at the Durham County Detention Facility. A detention officer found Fennell unresponsive and hanging from a bed sheet attached to a cell window. The detention staff alerted the detention facility’s medical team and attempted to revive Fennell until paramedics arrived; she was later pronounced dead at the facility. The detention staff completed the required hourly routine checks of Fennell’s cell. She was not under suicide observation.
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SHERIFF ANDREWS STATEMENT
“It’s our duty and obligation to provide a grieving family with answers. Our continued thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time. When there’s a loss of life on our watch, we take that seriously. Our detectives gather evidence, talk to witnesses, and conduct a thorough investigation of all in-custody deaths. While we appreciate calls for additional details, releasing information prematurely wouldn’t be prudent. We are deliberate in our efforts to protect the privacy of the detainee who died and the integrity of the investigation.
I am confident in our investigators and the reporting process set by the State; however, I also want the public to be confident in our findings. To remove doubt and speculation, the Sheriff’s Office has decided to ask the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate the unfortunate suicide of Uniece Fennell, and the events leading up to her death at the Durham County Detention Facility.
CLAIMS OF INAPPROPRIATE COMMENTS
We can confirm the Sheriff’s Office received a request from Ms. Fennell’s attorney alleging a detention officer made an inappropriate comment. On the same day her attorney contacted the Sheriff’s Office, the Agency began the initial phases of a standard investigation and learned the detention officer in question had resigned two weeks prior to the complaint. Detainees at the detention facility can voluntarily submit requests and grievances through a kiosk system located in their housing unit. A grievance officer reviews each complaint and if necessary, will conduct an investigation. Our records indicate Ms. Fennell did not submit a complaint.
Sheriff Andrews does not condone inappropriate language; it’s the professional standard he expects of himself and all of his employees.