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Suicide at jail; inmate hung himself, police report states

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A Yatahey man is dead after an apparent suicide last week at the McKinley County Adult Detention Center, records show.

Sgt. Elreno Henio of the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a police report that on Dec. 9 Thomas Yazzie-Joe, 28, was discovered dead by a jail booking officer who was making routine rounds.

Henio recorded that Yazzie-Joe was booked earlier in the day on aggravated battery and aggravated assault charges. The police report states that Yazzie-Joe was “aggressive and disorderly” during the booking process.

Yazzie-Joe was placed in a single cell without another inmate to avoid fighting and confrontations with other inmates, the police report states. Steve Silversmith, jail warden, said there is no evidence to suggest that others aided in the death.

A jail officer checked on Yazzie-Joe and could not definitively see him through the cell door window. That bed check led to the discovery that Yazzie-Joe was hanging from a telephone headset cord, the police report states.

CPR was started by jail personnel, but to no avail, the police report states. MedStar arrived and there was still not a detected heartbeat, according to the police report.

County Attorney Doug Decker lamented the suicide. He said one thing that will be examined in the coming weeks by jail personnel is a consideration of shortening the phone cords in question so as to prevent such a happening in the future.

By Bernie Dotson

Sun Correspondent