Man dies while in police custody

Posted: Updated:
By Sarah Blais By Sarah Blais

MESA, Ariz. – Police are investigating the death of a man in custody at the Mesa Police Department Holding Facility early Tuesday morning.

According to Mesa police spokesman Steve Berry, a detention officer discovered the unresponsive 51-year-old man in his bunk while doing a walk-through of the facility shortly before 2:30 a.m.

Mesa firefighters pronounced the man dead in his cell.

“He was in our facility for a warrant arrest,” Berry wrote in an email to media outlets. “At the time of arrest, he was listed as transient and was intoxicated.”

Berry did not say anything more about the man or why a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Police will not release the man’s name until they can talk to his next of kin.

Detectives are handling the death investigation. It will be up to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Officer to determine how the man died.

Berry said the department would release more information as it becomes available.

The Mesa P.D. Holding Facility is located at the police headquarters building on Robson.

People who have been arrested in Mesa on misdemeanor charges and are awaiting their initial court appearances are held there. Their stays are no longer than 24 hours.

“Detention officers are responsible for the care, custody and control of all subjects brought into the facility,” reads a city of Mesa webpage about the processing center.

Those arrested on felony charges are processed at the Mesa facility and then transported to Maricopa County's Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix.

According to the Mesa Police Department, some 18,500 prisoners are processed through the facility every year.

Processing prisoners including searching them for contraband and weapons, taking fingerprints and preparing court paperwork.