NORFOLK — Minutes before he was found unconscious in a Norfolk courthouse holding cell, a 17-year-old inmate was waiting to attend a hearing in connection to felony charges against him, officials say.
Now, he’s in critical condition at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and the city’s police department is investigating what happened to him.
The teenager was the only inmate in the Norfolk Circuit Court holding cell when a sheriff’s deputy discovered him unresponsive around 11:05 a.m..
It’s unclear at this time how long the teenager had been unconscious. Norfolk Sheriff Joe Baron said his office was not aware of any physical or mental health issues that would have called for him to be monitored full-time by a deputy.
NSO deputies are required to check on inmates in holding cells at least twice an hour. Baron said his staff try to make those checks every 15 minutes. Holding cells are monitored by video cameras, and the footage has been turned over to the Norfolk Police Department, Baron said.
Courts spokeswoman Amanda Howie said that he has been charged with two counts of malicious wounding, attempted malicious wounding and threatening a school employee in connection to an incident at Maury High School on April 26.
Baron said that officials do not suspect foul play, in part because he was in a holding cell by himself; however, he could not confirm whether or not his condition arose from self-inflicted injury or a medical emergency.
“No foul play is suspected, but any time there’s an incident like this, and the health of the person is critical, we call an outside agency to do the investigation,” Baron said, adding that the NSO will also do an internal investigation to determine if sheriff’s deputies followed policy and procedure.
Baron declined to release the teenager’s name, but said that a family member who was in court has been notified.
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