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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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County jail inmate dies
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Jail inmate Timothy Michael Clark died Tuesday, according to Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry. Clark had appeared to be normal shortly before he collapsed in the jail (above), Perry said. (Bulletin photo)
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Video surveillance shows a Henry County Jail inmate who died early Tuesday was walking around and appeared normal minutes before he collapsed, according to Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry.

“He is up walking around and it appears that everything is OK. He appears normal,” Perry said.

Around 11:14 p.m. Monday, jailers were alerted by inmates that Timothy Michael Clark Jr., 28, of 291 Main St., Ridgeway, was experiencing a medical problem, and he was pronounced dead at 12:24 a.m. Tuesday at Memorial Hospital in Martinsville, according to Perry and a news release. The cause of death had not been determined.

Although there are additional tests pending, Perry said a preliminary autopsy report showed no signs of injuries from another person.

“There is nothing to indicate foul play at this time,” the sheriff added.

Clark was jailed in early September in connection with a number of charges, according to Perry.

Court records show those charges included grand larceny, statutory burglary of a dwelling to commit larceny, unlawfully shooting into an occupied dwelling, assault and batter of a family member, violate a protective order and reckless handling of a firearm. All of the alleged incidents were in August.

Clark’s case was set to be heard April 30, court records show.

Also, a single count of strangulation — also in connection with an alleged August incident — was not prosecuted, according to a February court record.

Clark was being housed in one of six jail cells arranged in a row, or cell-block, at the county jail on Kings Mountain Road, Perry said.

To his knowledge, Clark did not cause problems in the jail, Perry said.

The sheriff said there are several screens, or monitors, that corrections officers use to watch “the hallways, the cells and the isolation cells that are in use, and several years ago, we implemented a lot of new technology in the jail. ... There is a concreteness to being able to see the actions in a video, and this is one situation where it very much tells the story.”

Corrections officers working in the jail must perform what is called a documented medical round each night before locking the inmates into the individual six cells in the block for the night, the sheriff said. Usually there are two inmates in each of the six cells, he said.

Perry said jail records showed the medical round was done at 10:53 p.m. Monday, about 21 minutes before officers were told that Clark was experiencing a medical problem.

Additionally, another officer had been in Clark’s cell block between the medical round and the 11:14 p.m. alert from inmates, Perry said.

The video shows that “during this time frame, Mr. Clark appears to be of normal behavior. He is up walking around, and from watching his movement, he did not appear to be in distress,” Perry said.

Clark is seen in the video going into the cell he shares with one other inmate, Perry said. An inmate walks by and has a brief conversation with Clark, Perry said the video showed.

Minutes later, another inmate walks by and signals to officers in the control room that something is amiss, the sheriff said.

Clark’s fellow inmates “were looking after him. When he collapsed, they were trying to get him out of the cell and help bring him back out into the hallway, working with our officers so lifesaving efforts could be done as quickly as possible,” Perry said.

The video shows that within one minute of being told that Clark was having a problem, “our officers are there and helping the inmates to get Mr. Clark out of the cell and doing resuscitation efforts. Within five minutes, an EMS crew is on the scene trying to revive him,” Perry said.

He added that a Henry County Public Safety EMS crew was nearby when the call went out and arrived at the jail within a “matter of minutes.”

Citing privacy concerns, the sheriff declined to say whether Clark had existing medical problems.

Perry said the EMS crew took Clark to Memorial Hospital in Martinsville, where the hospital staff continued to try to revive him. The efforts were not successful, and Clark was pronounced dead.

“We’ve obtained statements from officers and inmates, and the statements do match video footage,” Perry said. “We have extensively watched the video, and it shows the officers responded immediately and the inmates act(ing) immediately. Their actions showed an awareness and concern for Mr. Clark’s health. The inmates immediately notified us and helped in every way to get him where life-saving means could be applied. Everyone involved reacted immediately and worked professionally to do everything they could for Mr. Clark.”

Clark’s body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Roanoke for autopsy, Perry said.

“One of our investigators went to Roanoke for the autopsy this morning, and the autopsy already has been performed. There are other parts (of the autopsy) that are not complete, but the preliminary report showed there are no injuries caused by another inmate,” Perry said Tuesday afternoon.

“Mr. Clark did suffer a small injury from the fall” when he collapsed, “but there were no injuries as a result of foul play,” Perry said. “From the preliminary autopsy, video and statements, there is nothing to indicate foul play at this time.”

At this point, it’s still uncertain what caused the death, Perry said. Clark “was walking around one minute,” and the next minute, he was unresponsive, the sheriff added.

“I would ask that people would be in prayer for the family. Mr. Clark was a veteran who served his community and his country, and he does have children,” Perry said.Clark


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