Suicidal suspect dies in police custody

January 18, 2011 1:44:05 PM PST
A man who claimed to be suicidal and suffering a mental crisis died while in police custody, and now an investigation is underway. Charles Albert Cathy III, 42, was arrested at about 9:45pm Saturday and died about 3pm on Monday. Cathy was pronounced dead at Ben Taub General Hospital. An autopsy will determine his cause of death.

Police say Cathy was arrested by HPD officers for burglary of a habitation and outstanding warrants. At the time of his arrest, Cathy was reportedly disoriented, shouting that he was suicidal and claimed to be in mental crisis.

Officers restrained Cathy and took him to the Neuro Psychiatric Center where a staff doctor rejected his admission and advised officers to directly book Cathy into the Harris County Jail. When officers arrived with Cathy at the jail, they say he calmed down and jailers took him into the jail to be processed.

While being processed, Cathy reportedly became unresponsive and paramedics transported him to Ben Taub General Hospital. HPD patrol officers were still at the jail when Cathy became unresponsive and followed his ambulance to the hospital, where they remained with him until he died on Monday.

The case is considered an in-custody death since Cathy was a prisoner who became unresponsive and died while police were present. As is customary with in-custody deaths involving HPD officers, the case will be investigated by the HPD Homicide and Internal Affairs Divisions and the Harris County District Attorney's Office.