State police officials took over an investigation into the police in-custody death of a Savannah, Georgia man whose family is demanding answers.
The Georgia Bureau of investigation (GBI) announced Tuesday that its crime lab plans to perform an autopsy on Charles Garrett III to determine the exact cause and manner of his death. This probe stems from a request on Monday for assistance from the Savannah Police Department.
Officers arrested Garrett, 36, on Monday after a foot chase. While in custody, he complained about breathing problems. Emergency services personnel evaluated Garrett but found normal vital signs.
Yet he died shortly after that evaluation, which raised questions from Garrett’s family about exactly why he passed away, WJCL-TV reported.
“Somewhere down the line someone dropped the ball,” Garrett’s brother, Karsen Garrett, said. “We don’t know who did it, but you don’t get a medical work up and then die 6 minutes later. Not in this day and age.”
The arrest stemmed from officers responding to a call at City Market about an individual with a gun, according to the GBI. Garrett fled when the police approached. During the foot chase, Garrett’s gun allegedly dropped to the ground. The chase continued from the market through the Bohemian Hotel, and ended on River Street. Eventually, he complied with the officers and was taken into custody.
Emergency services personnel arrived at the scene after Garrett complained about difficulty breathing. Garrett’s vital signs were normal. He was pending transport to the hospital by law enforcement for further examination. However, while still at the arrest location, Garrett “experienced a medical issue which required immediate attention,” the GBI stated, without specifying the nature of the medical issue.
After performing CPR, Garrett was transported to a hospital by ambulance. Medical staff at the hospital pronounced him dead.
Garrett’s death came on the heels of the in-custody death of Lanekia Michelle Brown in a Mississippi jail. Authorities notified her family on Dec. 23 that Brown, who was about four weeks pregnant, died in her cell. Brown’s family suspected foul play because she had no known health issues. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation planned to conduct a probe to find out how she died.
In their search for answers, Garrett’s family wants to see police body camera footage that they hope will clear up how the arrest unfolded and what happened while he was in police custody.
“We’re not here to point fingers at the police department, or medical. But apparently, someone did something wrong and we just need clarification,” Karsen Garrett said.