Family demands answers after deadly altercation between deputies and inmate at Summit County Jail

Posted at 6:28 AM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-06 22:53:49-04

An Akron family is demanding a thorough investigation after an inmate, involved in an altercation with two Summit County Jail deputies, died the next day.

The Summit County Medical Examiner said Anthony Jones, 36, suffered cardiac arrest following the altercation, but the cause and manner of his death are pending further toxicology testing.

The inmate's wife, Brittany Houston, told News 5 she's frustrated and angry because jail officials have not returned her call seeking information about what happened to Jones.

"My belief is that he went in a whole man, fully healthy and fully whole and he came out a dead man," Houston said.

The incident happened Friday morning.

Sheriff Steve Barry said Jones became violent while he was being moved from one part of the jail to another location.

Barry said two deputies were injured during the outburst and Jones was placed in a restraint chair and lost consciousness.

Houston said by the time she saw her unresponsive husband in a hospital bed at Akron General Medical Center Friday night, his eyes were swollen shut. She also said she was informed by doctors that Jones had other injuries.

Houston also noticed what she believed to be Taser burns on Jones's chest.

Sheriff Barry would not say if Tasers were used on Jones during the altercation.

An investigative report with the Summit County Medical Examiner's office indicated Jones had a bruise on his chest, but no other obvious trauma.

Attorney Nick DiCello, who is representing Houston, said the family is currently considering options, including requesting an independent autopsy.

RELATED: Summit County Jail inmate dead after altercation with deputies

"I want a thorough investigation on exactly what happened to him. This needs to be thoroughly investigated by anyone who can thoroughly investigate it," Houston said.

Barry asked detectives from the Stark County Sheriff's Department to investigate the death.

It's not clear how long the probe will last. Detectives are expected to interview inmates who may have witnessed the struggle.

The two deputies have been placed on paid leave during the investigation.

Jones was in the jail on multiple charges, including possession of heroin and cocaine and improper discharge of a firearm into a habitation. Akron police allege Jones fired shots into two East Akron homes last month.

A review of his criminal background reveals he also had convictions for drug and sex offenses.

"Regardless of his past, this man did not deserve to die," Houston said.

Houston and Jones have three children together.

Kylan Houston-Jones, 14,  shed tears as his mother stressed the unanswered questions the family faces.

"My dad didn't deserve this. He was an excellent father. He was always there for me," the boy said.

Barry said there is a camera in the area where the altercation took place, but it's a live feed, so the incident was not recorded.

More information on the timeline of the incident may be released in the next few days, Barry said.

In the meantime, Houston is meeting with an attorney on Tuesday and continues to question whether the deputies used excessive force.

"What's important right now is that we need answers and we need justice. That's what's important right now."

Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro issued the following statement Wednesday:

I would like to extend my condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Jones. Regardless of the
circumstances, the loss of a loved one is incredibly difficult for family and friends. It is my
understanding that, at the request of Sheriff Steve Barry, the Stark County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an independent investigation into the incident that occurred at the Summit County Jail. That investigation is presently ongoing. The Summit County Medical Examiner is also conducting a forensic investigation into the cause and manner of Mr. Jones’ death, which is also pending at this time. In order to maintain the integrity of each investigation, and to provide for fair and impartial determinations, my office will have no further comment at this time. I ask that those involved allow each investigation to proceed without interference so that we can, as a community, obtain an understanding of the events that transpired.