New Bedford Man Dies in Apparent Suicide at Dartmouth Jail
UPDATE: This article has been updated to include comments from Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux, who will also be appearing on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight program at 7 p.m. on Friday.
DARTMOUTH — A man from New Bedford has died in an apparent suicide by hanging at the Bristol County House of Corrections in Dartmouth on Thursday, Jan. 5 — just one day after the new county sheriff was sworn in.
The District Attorney's office said the man was 41 years old and was being held on drugs-related charges, although he was not identified.
Jail staff found the inmate just after 7 p.m. Thursday while making rounds to hand out medication, according to the D.A.'s office.
Staffers immediately called a medical emergency response, which included the use of a defibrillator on the inmate.
He was rushed to St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford, but was pronounced dead at 8:09 p.m.
The D.A.'s office said the man arrived at the jail on Jan. 3 and was held on $2,500 cash bail.
He was arraigned that same day on charges of cocaine trafficking, two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws.
His death is currently under investigation by state police assigned to the D.A.'s office, and an autopsy is being conducted as part of the investigation.
The incident took place just one day after the inauguration of new Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux.
Heroux called the death "heartbreaking on many levels."
In a statement, he noted that the man's cellmate alerted officers to the emergency, and is being evaluated by mental health professionals along with the other inmates in the housing unit.
The new sheriff said he returned to the facility that evening, and offered condolences to the inmate's family.
"My goal, our collective goal as a corrections organization, is to reduce the high rate of suicide these facilities have seen over the past decade-plus," Heroux said.
"If we assume we’re doing everything right, we cannot possibly improve. We must assume we can do better."
Heroux said he plans to invite experts to examine the jail's policies and procedures, as well as offer more rehabilitative and addiction services to inmates.
"These initiatives, this new culture, will take time, but we will get there," he said. "It just takes time."