Family Presses for ‘Justice’ After Death in Custody Spurs Firing of 5 Savannah Officers

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Five police officers in Savannah, Ga., have been fired and one suspended after a Black man, William Harvey, hanged himself while in custody in April, says the New York Times. Three of the fired officers mocked Harvey’s death in a text message exchange containing a rude GIF of a Black man hanging himself from a noose. The officers’ dismissals were announced by the Savannah Police Department on Monday. Harvey, 60, was found unresponsive in an interview room where he was left alone. Cpl. Silver Leuschner, one of the officers fired over her response to the situation, was said to have breached the department’s conduct policy and had failed to turn on cameras during the encounter. Sgt. Michael Kerr, the other officer fired, allegedly breached his responsibilities as a supervisor.

His death was ruled a suicide, but his family says the police are at fault over the actions of their officers leading up to and after his death. The family said, “the police had neglected the warning signs that Mr. Harvey had been in distress, failed to activate all of the cameras that were in the room and later made light of the tragedy in a group text message exchange.” Harvey’s family says they will not rest until there is full transparency about what happened in the interview room and until justice is served. Francys Johnsons, the Harvey family lawyer, says, “When you’re in the care (and) custody of the police, you should be able to enter an interrogation room and emerge alive.”

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