Rep. Davis Calls for Investigation Into Jail Hangings

Widow of a man who hanged himself filed wrong death lawsuit against the city this week

By Michele Relerford
|  Wednesday, Dec 28, 2011  |  Updated 10:39 PM CDT
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The widow of a man who committed suicide while being held in a Chicago jail has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

The widow of a man who committed suicide while being held in a Chicago jail has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

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U.S. Rep. Danny Davis has called for a federal investigation of a pair of suicides that occurred within 96 hours of each other at a South Side police lock-up last month.

Davis said he was “not accusing anyone of anything” but said he wanted someone to look into the deaths in custody of DeVelt Bradford and Melvin Woods.

"I have no choice except to call upon the U.S. Attorney's Office to conduct its own independent investigation," he said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

Linda Bradford, Bradford's 52-year-old widow, filed a wrong death lawsuit Tuesday alleging her husband's death signals a pattern of abuse of African Americans in police lockup. It comes almost a month after a wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the daughter of a 62-year-old man who hanged himself days after Bradford at the same station.

Bradford was found hanged by his pants Nov. 17 in a cell at the Calumet District police station, at 727 E. 111th St., according to police News Affairs. He was charged the day before with first-degree murder and armed robbery for a Nov. 10 attack at an Aldi store at 9017 S. Halsted St. that left s security guard dead.

On Nov. 20, Woods, was taken into custody shortly after midnight on an aggravated assault charge after a complaint was signed against him from a domestic-related incident.

Woods was later found in a cell in the Calumet District police station. He hanged himself with his underwear, police said.

Both deaths were ruled a suicide by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

The lawsuit filed this week by Linda Bradford alleges the city failed to provide a safe environment for prisoners. Her attorneys, Sam Adam Jr. and Victor Henderson, asked for an investigation by the U.S attorney's office.

The suit filed by Woods' daughter, Mary, similarly claims the city failed to prevent Woods from hanging himself in his cell and failed to follow or have adequate policies to prevent prisoners from harming themselves.

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