Family of dead detainee looks to GPD for answers - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Family of dead detainee looks to GPD for answers

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 by Krystal Paco

Guam - Grieving the death of a loved one is never easy, but having to do so with so many unanswered questions is nearly impossible.

The family of the late Jason Martin are looking to the Guam Police Department to find closure. Martin was the detainee who appeared to have died by suicide in his holding cell hours after his arrest last sunday.

Linda Edward's tears rushed down her face as she held tight to a picture of her nephew, 27-year-old Martin.

"There's still no closure for the family. That's what we want. We want to have closure and we want to know what actually took place inside that holding cell," she expressed.

Martin was arrested last Sunday and taken to the Dededo Precinct for offenses of assault, aggravated assault, and family violence. Hours later, he was found unconscious in his holding cell with his shoelaces tied around his neck. Shortly after, he was pronounced dead at the Guam Memorial Hospital.

According to Edward, family didn't receive the terrible news until nine hours later. By then, it was too late to view his body at the morgue and because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, were told to return on Tuesday. "It seems so heartless and insensitive. When somebody dies in the family, you want to see them, touch them, kiss them, you want to kiss them you want to visit them but they weren't allowed that grieving process," she said.

The island's chief medical examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola ruled martin's death a result of asphyxia due to hanging.

Because the incident occurred while martin was in the custody of police, the family is asking GPD to help with the arrangements.

Family also requested to view the precinct surveillance footage, but due to the ongoing internal affairs investigation, have been denied.

"Since this happened in the hands of GPD, so GPD should also help incur the expenses that the family is going through," said Edward. "That was really something else. We asked to see - supposedly there's a video tape - we asked to view the video tape also if we could see that he did this to himself so there could be some closure."

But the biggest question of all is why weren't Martin's shoes removed prior to being placed in the holding cell?

"I feel there should've been a standard operating procedure and it should be the same in all individuals that are brought in," she said.

Chief of Police Fred Bordallo responds stating the incident has prompted a review of GPD's arrest and holding protocols.

"Our prayers and our thoughts go out to the family," he said. "It's a tragic situation for our community in terms whenever a person, no matter what status this individual had, that we certainly don't want to see a person die. The scope of a lot of the responsibilities of our officer are to ensure the individual doesn't harm anyone else or harm any of our officers, so we're looking at some of our security procedures and that involves anything that a person who we're holding temporarily before transporting theme to department of corrections facility, is making sure they have items secured."

A final viewing of martin's body is scheduled for Sunday before he is sent to Pohnpei for burial.

If anyone in the community would like to make a monetary donation to the family, call 653-7222.
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