Lake County Jail video released after Waukegan man dies in custody

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran released pod video Wednesday of the Administrative Segregation Unit at Lake County Jail.

A 32-year-old man from north suburban Waukegan died last month after being found unresponsive in a cell in that section of the jail.

Although the video doesn't show much, it does establish a timeline that shows Robinson didn't see a nurse until nearly two-and-a-half hours after corrections officers said he was lethargic in his cell.

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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.

The video runs approximately 10 minutes. Jail officials said they checked on Robinson at 6 a.m. on Sept. 19 and found him lethargic. At that time, corrections officers called for a nurse, who didn't show up until roughly 9:30 a.m. to check on him. There was no further action.

When corrections officers brought him lunch around 11:05 a.m., they found Robinson unresponsive, which called for a medical emergency. That's when they called for help.

Robinson was transported to Vista East Hospital in Waukegan, where he was pronounced dead at 12:17 p.m., authorities said.

The incident sparked a shakeup in the sheriff's department, which so far has resulted in the demotion of two officers, after Curran viewed bodycam and jail surveillance video.

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

Sheriff's officials said bodycam video of the incident was not released because of the ongoing death investigation by the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force and an ongoing internal investigation by the Lake County Sheriff's Office of Professional Standards. The jail's medical contractor is also being reviewed.

"We can't save every life. People are going to die in custody. It happens all over, in any county, of any jail size, anywhere in America, this happens. Ultimately, what did we do? Do we do everything we can to save life? There's dignity in all human life. Mr. Robinson had a lot of people concerned about him and loved him and that would want everything done that could be done to save his life. Was it done in this instance? I don't think so," Curran said.

The video was showed to Robinson's family and attorney before it was released to the public.

The sheriff said Robinson's cause of death is still pending. An autopsy indicated "no signs of trauma relating to his death," the coroner's office said.

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."

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. In a statement released Sept. 22, the Lake County Coroner said their office never made any notification of Robinson's death to his family.

Robinson's family released the following statement Wednesday:
"Edward was a beautiful person who had a diagnosed mental illness and he needed treatment. He did not need to be in jail, he needed to be in a hospital. Instead, the Sheriff's department locked him up like an animal. When he was in distress, they ignored him as he lay dying in a cell. The Sheriff's deputies and medical personnel that ignored Edward should be fired for doing nothing to help him when he was clearly in need and dying while in their custody."
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