Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The family of an inmate found dead in his Prince George’s jail cell in June asked state and county investigators Tuesday to hand control of the probe to federal investigators.

“They are extremely disappointed with the investigation so far,” said Bobby G. Henry Jr., a lawyer for the family of Ronnie L. White. Mr. White, 19, was found dead in his jail cell June 29, shortly after he was arrested on charges of murdering a Prince George’s police officer.

The Maryland State Police and the FBI Civil Rights department took control of the probe at the request of Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson last month, but have issued little information since then.

“I believe that it is becoming abundantly clear this investigation is above and beyond the resources in Prince George’s County and the Maryland State Police and that the Department of Justice and the FBI need to immediately take full responsibility for this investigation and prosecution,” Mr. Henry told The Washington Times on Tuesday.

A state police spokeswoman said the investigation is still ongoing and declined to comment Tuesday.

The Chief Medical Examiner’s office has not completed its autopsy of Mr. White and the report could take as long as another week, said Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, who is participating in the investigation.

Mr. Korionoff said he could not comment on the investigation because it is ongoing.

Mr. White was arrested June 28 and charged in the death of Cpl. Richard S. Findley. Cpl. Findley, a 10-year veteran of the Prince George’s police was dragged to death during a traffic stop. Police arrested Mr. White shortly afterward.

Mr. White was found dead in his jail cell 36 hours after he was arrested. Corrections officers with access to Mr. White at the time of his death initially declined to cooperate with investigators, but were prodded by county officials to submit to interviews.

A preliminary autopsy done by the medical examiner’s office showed two small bones in Mr. White’s neck broken, indicating strangulation. An attorney for the correctional officers union, however, has said Mr. White was not the victim of a homicide and likely committed suicide.

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