A man hanged himself while alone in a holding cell at the Stephens County Jail after being arrested for being drunk and disruptive in public, Sheriff Wayne McKinney said Tuesday.
Clarence Arless Hill III, 42, of Duncan, wrapped a T-shirt around his neck and a large cell column and dropped down, strangling himself late Monday afternoon as the shirt caught on a short, steel wall that cordons off a cell toilet, McKinney said.
It happened in between frequent cell checks by detention officers, the sheriff said, and although efforts were made to revive Hill, he was transported to Duncan Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
McKinney said Tuesday afternoon that the death was still being investigated by his office, but there was no sign of foul play.
He also was reviewing his jail holding policies, but it appeared that all procedures had been followed.
Hill was drunk and being loud, yelling obscenities and waving his arms about when he was placed in the holding cell, McKinney said.
But he had not been especially belligerent or physical with arresting officers or detention officers, and doctors were surprised he was able to kill himself in that manner in such a short period of time, McKinney said.
“It’s a very, very sad thing,” McKinney said.
Earlier Monday, Hill was at a local retail store — which the sheriff said he did not want to name — while apparently under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and causing a disruption.
An off-duty sheriff’s deputy was in the store at the time.
“The guy was not making a lot of sense and was intoxicated to the point where he couldn’t stand up,” McKinney said.
When the deputy identified himself as an officer, Hill bolted outside and tried to get in a vehicle parked in front of the business.
There was no fight or resistance but Hill was arrested around 1:30 p.m. Duncan Police transported him to jail because the off-duty sheriff’s deputy was not in a car with a backseat cage.
Hill was placed in a detox cell — about 20 feet by 12 feet — so he could at least sober up enough to speak more clearly and answer some simple questions, McKinney said.
The cell door has a plastic-covered window that officers can see through and a detention officer checked on Hill every five to 10 minutes, the sheriff said.
“They can hear him cussing and raising cain so they know he’s back there,” McKinney said.
An officer checked on him about 4:25 p.m., found him to be pretty drunk still, and when a supervisor checked on him again at about 4:30 p.m., he was found hanging off the column and a toilet wall only about 3 feet high.
McKinney said a detention officer attempted to give Hill CPR, an automatic defribillator was used, and a doctor who was visiting the jail also responded before EMS arrived.
He was transported to Duncan Regional with CPR in progress but was pronounced dead on arrival.