Congressman calls for investigation of police custody deaths

originally by: Chicago Tribune
published: 28th December 2011

A U.S. Congressman asked federal authorities on Wednesday to investigate the deaths of two African-American men just three days apart while in custody at the same Chicago police station and during the same shifts. Lawyers for family members say the November deaths that have been ruled suicides should raise red flags given the city’s history of police abuse.

There has been just one other suicide in a Chicago police lockup in all of 2011, according to statistics from Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority.

Rep. Danny Davis, a Chicago Democrat, said he wasn’t “accusing anyone of anything” but he wants the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago to conduct a thorough investigation. He appeared Wednesday at a news conference with the mother of Develt Bradford, who died Nov. 17. Authorities say the 52-year-old used his pajama bottoms to hang himself.

Three days later, Melvin Woods, 62, was found hanging by his underwear.

“I’m very said, very disappointed in the way my son had to go,” said Annie Bradford as she began to cry. “I just want to know what really happened.” Her family’s lawyers were less circumspect than the congressman.

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