Police Investigating Inmate's Hanging Death

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Gordon Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer

Lake County sheriff's officials are investigating the apparent weekend suicide of a prisoner in the Lake County jail.

Sandra Scott, 27, was pronounced dead Saturday afternoon after being found hanging in a cell where she had been an inmate awaiting trial on misdemeanor charges.

Jail Director Charles DeFilippo said Monday that staff members had been assessing Scott's mental health since she arrived, but that she was not under a suicide watch while in custody.

"We are aware of some documentation about problems in her past with suicidal behavior, but it is too soon in our investigation to determine if any red flags should have been raised," DeFilippo said. "I can tell you that her mental health was assessed by the nurse in our intake area when she got here, and she had a second, 45-minute interview with a mental health social worker and it appears neither evaluation resulted in any concerns."

Scott had been in the jail since Wednesday, but her mental health condition was in question since her initial contact with Waukegan police the previous day.

Waukegan police Capt. Kenneth Leban said officers were called when Scott's mother complained her daughter was fighting with her and a sibling over Scott's use of cigarettes in the house.

Scott was involved in a physical altercation with her sister when police arrived and turned on the officers when they tried to separate the two, Leban said.

Police wrestled Scott to the ground and handcuffed her, Leban said. She was charged with battery, domestic battery and resisting arrest.

Scott's mother told the officers her daughter had exhibited suicidal behavior in the past, and that on Tuesday her daughter had taken as many as 30 pills of a drug to combat seizures and panic attacks, Leban said.

Police took Scott to St. Therese Medical Center in Waukegan where she was held overnight for a physical and mental evaluation, Leban said. She was released to police Wednesday morning.

Leban said the officers who transferred Scott to the jail included a document with her paperwork detailing the information given to them by Scott's mother. …