January 14, 2006
A man collapsed inside the Wilson County Jail late Friday following his arrest by Lebanon police and was pronounced dead a short while later at a local hospital.
Officials with both law enforcement agencies said the man had no physical signs of injuries when he was taken from the jail by ambulance shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.
The man was identified as Joshua Len Britton, 24, who was in the process of being charged with drug-related violations when he collapsed inside a holding cell containing at least two other prisoners, authorities said.
Sheriff Terry Ashe said he asked for an independent investigation into the death of the man, who was not yet officially in jail custody.
'The officers hadn't even finished writing the arrest warrants for him when it happened," Ashe said.
Lebanon Public Safety Commissioner Billy Weeks said the man was 'extremely cooperative" during his arrest.
'He threw some drugs down, turned around toward the officer's car and told him to take him on to jail," Weeks said.
Assistant Chief Deputy Robert Bryan, who oversees the jail, said other prisoners in the cell told officers 'it appeared he was having a seizure."
He said Britton was in a holding cell near the jail's booking area when he collapsed.
'He was in a highly visible area of the jail," Bryan said.
He said Britton, who had a previous arrest record, was spotted moments after 'just falling out" inside the cell.
'It was apparent something happened to him, and he was taken straight to the hospital," Bryan said.
Like Weeks, the head jailer said there were 'no signs whatsoever" of the man being physically mistreated.
'I think the investigation will show the cause of death didn't have anything to do with any physical treatment of him," Bryan said.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Suspect collapses in county jail, later dies
January 14, 2006