Local News

Durham inmate's parents suspicious of how he died

Posted June 1, 2018 5:19 p.m. EDT

— When Dashawn Devonte Evans was found dead in his cell Sunday morning at the Durham County jail, he became the 13th inmate to die in there in the last 10 years.

Although the autopsy results aren't back yet and the State Bureau of Investigation hasn't yet completed its review of his death, Evans' parents are blaming jail staff.

"They said he was a ward of the state, so how didn't they protect him?" his mother, Tammie Evans, asked Friday.

A report from the Durham County Sheriff's Office, which operates the jail, lists the cause of death as "undetermined" rather than natural causes or a suicide. The report also shows that Evans had been checked on twice in the hour before he was found dead, as required.

Dashawn Evans' father, Lewis Jacobs, said he has no idea what happened to his 23-year-old son.

"I would like to know," Jacobs said, noting that his son had been healthy and had no medical problems. "I just want the truth of what happened to my son."

Dashawn Evans had been in jail since last October on a robbery charge, and his family said he was expected to spend no more than three and a half years in prison. They said he was counting the months until his release so he could get back to his fiancee and two children.

"He made his mistakes, but he wasn’t a bad person," Jacobs said. "Ain’t nobody perfect, but he was, overall, he was a good person."

Jacobs said he was troubled to learn of the other dozen inmate deaths at the jail.

"I already felt like something wasn’t right with what they were telling me," he said, noting sheriff's investigators had said they believe Dashawn Evans died of natural causes. "I’m kind of positive that what they telling me ain’t true."

Jacobs said he doesn't believe the detention officers and other jail staff are doing their jobs properly.

"Just because somebody made a mistake and is incarcerated at the time, they’re still human beings," he said. "I just wish they would start treating them like human beings."

In a statement, the sheriff's office said its staff is highly trained and follows all policies and procedures.

"We strive to provide a safe and healthy environment for every person," the statement reads, "and will continue to maintain the highest standards for our staff."