Man dies in custody of Lake County Jail

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Monday, September 24, 2018
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A 32-year-old man died after being found unresponsive in a cell in the maximum security section of Lake County Jail.

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- A 32-year-old man died after being found unresponsive in a cell in the maximum security section of Lake County Jail.

Waukegan paramedics responded at 11:05 a.m. and attempted to revive Edward Robinson III, according to statements from the Lake County sheriff's and coroner's offices.

Robinson, a Waukegan resident, was taken to Vista East Hospital in Waukegan, where he was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

An autopsy indicated "no signs of trauma relating to his death," the coroner's office said.

Robinson's mother Sandra Raftie said she was originally told by sheriff's deputies that her son had committed suicide.

"I said, 'How?' They said, 'He strangled himself with a t-shirt,'" she said.

But Raftie later learned that was false information. His cause of death has not yet been determined. Toxicology and other further testing were pending.

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said he's not sure how Robinson died.

In a statement released Saturday, the Lake County Coroner said their office never made any notification of Robinson's death to his family.

"Our corrections officers noticed he wasn't doing well. They called for jail medical, medical checked vitals were ok, they thought he was ok," Curran said.

Jail medical personnel were called three times on Wednesday, according to Curran, and they discovered Robinson dead on that third check.

Robinson had been in custody since July 17 on a felony burglary charge, the sheriff's office said. He was ruled unfit to stand trial last month and was held in a cell alone pending placement in a treatment program.

The sheriff's office said he had been placed in the maximum security section of the jail due to "disruptive behavior and threatening harm toward other inmates."

Raftie said her son suffered from mental illness and was in and out of jail several times for minor charges like panhandling. She said he should have been placed in a hospital, not a jail.

"Why didn't they take care of him? Why?" she said.

After viewing body cam video and jail surveillance tape, Curran has suspended two people for handling the situation improperly.

"I wasn't happy with what I saw," he said. "Basically I didn't think they did their jobs."

The Lake County Major Crimes Task Force was investigating the death.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this reporting.