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Suicide at Hagatna Precinct

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - The Guam Police Department's Criminal Investigation Section has launched an investigation to determine how an arrestee managed to take his own life while in custody inside the Hagatna Precinct.

The arrest of a man for assault and family violence ended tragically at a police precinct.  The man - not yet identified by police - was discovered dead in a holding cell just after 4pm Sunday afternoon. GPD Spokesperson Officer A.J. Balajadia said, "One of the officers on that shift went to check on him and discovered the light was off in that room, and that's not normal so that's when they discovered they individual," he explained.

The suicide took place in a room that GPD says is about 8'-x-12', and while police will not confirm that the death was caused by hanging, we do know the holding room has a light fixture on the ceiling and the only furniture in the room were two chairs and a desk.

Officer Balajadia added, "When we turn over a person that is in our custody to the Department of Corrections they ask the individual to remove jewelry, shoelaces, belts and things like that are part of DOC policy.  But when we first get them in, they have all those thing on them."

Senator Adolpho Palacios, chairman of the Legislative Committee on Public Safety and a former police officer, says it is not unusual to leave an individual alone during an interrogation.  "Sometimes its part of the investigation to leave them in a closed door and go out I mean there I nothing in that room mind endanger that person," he said.

But this time there might have been. Palacios tells us he learned from a confidential source that the person found a phone cord in the holding room and may have used it to take his life, saying, "I got the impression that the person died of, I guess, suffocation; some kind of choking."

Palacios say the man was reportedly severely depressed.  The incident is now under investigation and the entire shift of officers on duty at the time was questioned.  Balajadia says at this time no reason exists to believe police officers on duty did not follow the correct protocol and procedures.  Likewise, Palacios, feels the incident is isolated, telling KUAM News, "How many times have the officers conducted and interview and left a suspect in there and all those hundreds of times then this time this is one time?"

An autopsy conducted on the man's body determined he had strangled himself with telephone cord.

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