Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Tuesday, June 11, 2013
PUNTA GORDA — Authorities are investigating the second inmate death at the Charlotte County Jail in less than two weeks.
Thomas Robert Andreasen, 48, a homeless man who had been arrested on a panhandling charge, was found unresponsive in his cell Sunday morning, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. Medical personnel performed CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.
Andreasen was housed in a pod for inmates with medical issues, according to CCSO spokeswoman Debbie Bowe. Andreasen suffered from a medical condition prior to his arrest Wednesday, but Bowe said she couldn’t disclose its nature due to patient confidentiality laws.
At the time of his death, Andreasen had been strapped to a ‘restraining chair,’ a device specifically designed for violent inmates to keep them from injuring themselves or others, according to Bowe.
Andreasen was confined to the chair after he became unruly around 4 a.m. and would not calm down, a report states. Bowe said jail personnel checked on Andreasen ‘every few minutes’ and he appeared to be in satisfactory condition until shortly after 10 a.m., when he was found to be unresponsive.
The Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit is investigating, which is standard procedure for any death at the jail, Bowe said. The result of the investigation is pending an autopsy by the Charlotte County Medical Examiner’s Office.
‘Both deaths were very tragic,’ Sheriff Bill Prummell said in a statement. ‘Anytime we have a death in the jail, we take it very seriously and do everything in our power to make sure individuals in our custody remain safe and protected. I have the utmost confidence in my staff and the care and custody of our inmate population.’
Andreasen is the second inmate who died at the Charlotte County Jail in less than two weeks.
On May 29, Victor Hope Akers, 56, of Port Charlotte, was found dead after he dove head-first off the second floor of a housing pod, according to a report. Bowe said Monday that the pod is open for inmates to walk around unless they are on lockdown. Akers was being held at the jail on charges of battery and violation of probation. His death is still an open investigation, Bowe said.
Andreasen was arrested last week after authorities say he violated a county ordinance by panhandling near a road. He was being held at the jail on $250 bond.
According to a report, Andreasen was standing in the roadway outside the Publix shopping center on Cochran Boulevard, holding a sign that read, ‘Is What It Is, Homeless Dude Needs Food’ on one side and ‘Need Job Anything Helps’ on the other side.
Andreasen admitted to deputies that he knew it was illegal to stand next to the roadways and impede the flow of traffic by asking people for cash, a report stated.