- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 8, 2008

ANNAPOLIS | Prince George’s County officials said Monday they have not suspended the nine corrections officers on duty when inmate Ronnie L. White was killed in his cell because charges have yet to be filed against them.

“Nobody has been implicated in order for them to be suspended or reassigned. They have not charged anybody or found any wrongdoing as of yet,” said Jim Keary, a spokesman for county Executive Jack B. Johnson. “If there is somebody charged with this, I expect there would be personnel changes.”

Mr. White was found dead in his jail cell more than a week ago, two days after he had been charged with fatally running over a Prince George’s police officer.

The attorney for the White family Monday said he was outraged that the corrections officers had not yet been suspended.

“Why have they not done that?” asked Bobby Henry. “It has now been nine days since this young man was murdered in his cell.”

Mr. Henry said the White family, which received Mr. White’s body Friday, was still making funeral arrangements.

Mr. Henry commended the quick action of Mr. Johnson, a Democrat, on the investigation, but chastised corrections officers who might be stonewalling state investigators.

County public safety director Vernon R. Herron told corrections officers to cooperate with state investigators after reports that a handful were not cooperating.

Mr. Henry said Mr. Herron is not doing enough.

“At a minimum, the very minimum, those individuals were charged with, their duties were to be in the cellblock to monitor and or protect the individuals that were there,” he said. “They need to be suspended until we can get to the bottom of it.”

The state police are investigating Mr. White’s death and will forward findings to the county’s state’s attorney, who will then decide whether to file charges, said a state police spokesman, who would not comment on specifics of the case.

Mr. Johnson asked the state police to handle the investigation into Mr. White’s death to avoid any conflict of interest. The FBI is conducting a separate civil rights probe because Mr. White, 19, was killed while in jail.

F. Glenn Ivey, state’s attorney for Prince George’s county, convened a grand jury last week to investigate the death.

Mr. White’s death was ruled a homicide after a preliminary state medical examiner’s report showed he had two broken bones, which is typical of cases involving strangulation.

Family members and colleagues last week mourned Cpl. Richard S. Findley, 39, who died after being run over and dragged to his death by a truck.

Cpl. Findley was pinned against his cruiser and later dragged to his death in a truck purportedly driven by Mr. White, with another passenger.

Cpl. Findley was laid to rest Thursday in a funeral service attended by more than 1,000.

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But Prince George’s activists say they want closure in the death of Mr. White and are waiting on law enforcement to do something.

“We’re still showing the same jail cell picture of the young man [Mr. White]. We haven’t even humanized him,” said Zalee Harris, founding member of the Greater Beltway Coalition, which has asked the county to suspend the nine corrections officers and wants its own branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“We’ve buried an officer, and we’ve yet to humanize the young man,” Mrs. Harris said Monday.

Community activists say the incident has sparked racial tension in the county because Mr. White is black and Cpl. Findley is white.

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