Death of Suffolk inmate is being investigated
By Megan Woolhouse, Globe Staff | January 3, 2008
Suffolk County jail officials and the Boston Police Department are investigating the death of an inmate on New Year's Eve as he was transferred to the maximum-security section of the Suffolk County House of Correction.
Relatives demanded an independent investigation, saying that they had seen his body and that he appeared to have been beaten.
Officials disputed the family's account. They said Darryl Lee Leslie, 41, died shortly after 9 p.m. as he was being transported out of minimum security.
Steve Tompkins, jail spokesman, said officials learned Leslie was "planning a violent attack" on another inmate and were moving him to more restrictive quarters when he became disruptive.
"During the move, he fell into unconsciousness," Tompkins said last night. He would not elaborate, but he said a preliminary investigation by the sheriff's Internal Affairs Division found no wrongdoing by guards. "There was no excessive or unwarranted force used," Tompkins said.
Tompkins said he did not know the names or the number of guards involved in the move. Leslie, who was 6 feet 6 inches tall, would have been accompanied by two or more guards, he said.
Leslie's body was sent for an autopsy by the state medical examiner's office last night, Tompkins said.
He had been incarcerated since Aug. 17 for violating his probation, Tompkins said, adding that Leslie had been in and out of the 1,600-inmate jail over the years on charges of larceny, assault and battery with a box cutter, and receiving stolen property. Tompkins said Leslie had also served time in state prison for armed robbery.
Thomas Leslie, the inmate's younger brother, said yesterday that the family was outraged to learn of his death and questioned whether the guards used force. Thomas Leslie said morgue employees let him and a sister view their brother's head yesterday; the rest of the body was under a white cloth. His face appeared bruised and swollen, he said.
Tompkins said the family had not been allowed to see the body.