Medical Examiner: Teen found unresponsive inside Norfolk holding cell committed suicide

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Police say 17-year-old Katrell Jaymar Washington died after being found unresponsive in a holding cell in Norfolk on November 16. 

The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Richmond determined his death was a suicide, caused by asphyxiation.

Norfolk police spokesman Daniel Hudson says emergency responders were called to the Norfolk Circuit Court building just after 11 a.m.

According to Amanda Howie, director of communications with the Office of the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney, Katrell Jaymar Washington was scheduled to appear in Norfolk Circuit Court the same day as his death for a hearing regarding the status of his case.

He was charged with two counts of malicious wounding, one count of attempted malicious wounding, and one count of threatening a school employee in relation to an incident that occurred at Maury High School on April 26, according to Howie.

Staff with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office began CPR until paramedics arrived. Washington was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in critical condition, according to Baron, but later succumbed to his injury.

Baron says when prisoners are in holding areas, his policy calls for deputies to check on them at least twice an hour, but his department strives for checks every 15 minutes.

“It’s highly unusual that this happened at all. If there is an indicator, if there’s any indication that somebody has a medical issue, then yeah, we would be checking on them on a more regular basis.”

An internal investigation is being conducted by the sheriff’s office to see if deputies and staff responded according to policy.

“What I would like to see happen is for us to have a complete picture of everything that we knew, when we knew it, and what are there’s anything we should’ve known differently, and whether we responded appropriately,” Baron said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

Hudson said Washington was the only person in the holding cell.