Raleigh, N.C. — The friend of an inmate who died earlier this month after an altercation with a Wake County Detention Center officer said Thursday he wants to know what happened.
Michael Watkins met Shon McClain about five years ago at the South Wilmington Street Center in Raleigh, a homeless shelter for men.
Watkins, who is no longer homeless, remembers his friend as a happy-go-lucky guy.
“He always had a beautiful spirit,” he said. “He always uplifted those around him, people that were homeless in the shelter. Really, it was hard to be sad with Shon around."
Watkins says the last time he saw McClain, it appeared he was turning his life around. But earlier this month, McClain was back in the Wake County jail awaiting a court date on misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and consuming a malt beverage on city property.
The Wake County Sheriff’s Office has said Officer Markeith Council was defending himself against an attack by McClain, and both men were injured. Council’s injuries were not life-threatening and he recovered at home.
McClain was taken to WakeMed with a broken neck. He died Monday.
The State Bureau of Investigation is investigation the incident and will turn over its findings to the Wake County District Attorney’s Office. Council remains on duty at the jail.
Watkins said the report of McClain attacking an officer doesn't sound like the man he knew.
“He always had such a pleasing personality,” he said. “He never seemed to be anyone that would take such an act of aggression like that.”
McClain's family has hired an attorney to look into case. The family is concerned that the officer involved was physically much larger than McClain.
The family said McClain's funeral will be held Friday.