Mother Wants Answers After Son Dies in Police Custody at Lake County Jail

Edward Robinson, of Waukegan, was found unresponsive in his cell on Wednesday morning, authorities said

A north suburban woman is demanding answers after authorities said her son died while in police custody at the Lake County jail.

At around 11:05 a.m. on Wednesday, 32-year-old Edward Robinson III, of Waukegan, was found unresponsive in his cell in the maximum-security section of the jail, according to statements from the offices of the Lake County sheriff and coroner.

Robinson was charged with burglary on July 17 and had been in the sheriff's custody for 64 days at the time of his death, officials said. He had been placed in the maximum-security unit, made up of entirely solitary cells, due to "disruptive behavior and threatening harm toward other inmates," according to the Lake County sheriff's office. 

In August, a judge determined that Robinson was unfit to stand trial, the sheriff's office said, and he was ordered held in custody until the Illinois Department of Human Services determined an appropriate placement.

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said Robinson was treated twice by medical staff on the morning of his death. Two hours later, he was checked a third time and found unresponsive, authorities said.

"Mr. Robinson was sprawled out, the correctional officers noticed him in that condition again," Curran said. "Once again, they called for jail medical, came up, there was CPR administered, but ultimately Mr. Robinson wound up dying."

Robinson was taken to Vista Medical Center East where he was pronounced dead, according to the offices of the sheriff and coroner.

Curran said he then reviewed the officers' body cameras and a camera fixed on Robinson's cell - which led him to place two correctional officers on leave.

"I wasn’t happy with what I saw," Curran said. "As a result of that a lieutenant who was on the scene and a sergeant who was on the scene have both been placed on administrative leave."

Robinson’s mother Sandra Marie Raftie said that action isn't enough and that she doesn't understand how her son - who she said was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 16 - died in police custody.

"It was hard for me to be his caregiver but I gave it my best shot. I did the best I could do for him," Raftie said.

"When he was on the streets I was worried about someone doing something to him, but it happened to him in jail. That’s horrible," she continued, adding, "I want to know what happened."

Raftie said when deputies came to her home to notify her of her son's death, they told her it was a suicide and she didn't believe it.

Robinson's preliminary autopsy results indicated there were no signs of trauma, the Lake County coroner's office said in a statement Friday, adding that Robinson's cause of death could not yet be determined and further testing, including toxicology, was being done.

The Lake County Major Crime Task Force and the Lake County coroner's office continue to investigate, officials said.

In addition to the suspensions of the two officers, Curran said he also demoted the jail's chief and deputy chief. He also planned on releasing video of the events surrounding Robinson's death next Friday.

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