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Investigations near end in death of Lucas County jail inmate

Two investigations into the apparent suicide of a Lucas County jail inmate have so far found no criminal or administrative violations.

Officials reviewed the Nov. 25 hanging death of Lisa McCray, 43, of Hilliard, Ohio. Investigative services Lt. Dave Carter and internal affairs Capt. Richard Grove said Wednesday their assessments found no wrongdoing.

Both added their investigations are still pending the final autopsy ruling.

The Lucas County Coroner's Office found Ms. McCray died by hanging from her neck while in custody. Jail officials described it as self-inflicted with a phone cord.

The autopsy has not yet declared a final ruling, however, because toxicology results are pending.

Ms. McCray's father, Horace, said an attorney who was friends with Ms. McCray continues to review what occurred.

“I still cry,” Mr. McCray said. “We've got a lot to do. This doesn’t keep us from our day-to-day functioning.”

On the evening of Nov. 23, Ms. McCray attended Hollywood Casino Toledo with her girlfriend and mother. A Toledo police report shows she and her girlfriend were both highly intoxicated and refused to leave.

Jail staff booked Ms. McCray about midnight on a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. An officer checked on her just before 3:30 a.m. They found her unresponsive about 4 a.m.

All inmates are screened at booking for suicide risk, and Ms. McCray was not flagged. Jail officials said Ms. McCray was verbally abusive toward others and was moved to a separate area.

Ms. McCray was pronounced dead at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center. Sheriff John Tharp has said officers properly monitored Ms. McCray.

The coroner's office also provided The Blade with autopsy results for all 13 inmates who died in sheriff's office custody since 2007.

Eight of those died from natural causes and two accidentally in cases related to drugs. Two in addition are still pending, and another is of undetermined cause.

The office also recorded an inmate death in 2004 that early this year led to the county's insurance carrier paying $1.28 million.

Carlton Benton, 25, was in custody on aggravated murder charges in March, 2004, when he was taken from jail to the hospital for seizure treatment. A lawsuit alleged he resisted when he was to return to the jail, leading to deputies assaulting him at the hospital and jail. He returned to the hospital and died the following June.

A later federal investigation led to the 2009 indictment of then-Sheriff James Telb and three members of his staff. He and an internal affairs captain were acquitted on charges of covering up the death and lying to investigators.

Two others were sentenced to prison, one for writing a false report and another for additionally violating Mr. Benton's civil rights in leaving Mr. Benton in a cell without seeking medical attention. The jury did not find they used excessive force, and the settlement admits no wrongdoing of defendants.

Contact Ryan Dunn at, 419-724-6095, or on Twitter @RDunnBlade.

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