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NAACP tours county jail following inmate death

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Sep 13, 2022

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Representatives from the local chapter of the NAACP have taken a tour of the Lee County Jail following a reported inmate death.

Lee County NAACP President James Muwakkil said during a Tuesday press conference that the organization responded to calls from other inmates regarding the treatment of a man who had "come in in handcuffs and a wheelchair and ... brought out in a body bag."

Officials say that around midnight Sept. 7, 9-1-1 received a call in reference to a man "terrorizing his family."

The man was reportedly walking around his home high on drugs when he yelled threats to shoot his wife, children, dog, and, himself. The caller grabbed her children and fled the home.

Deputies entered the home and saw the man standing over the bed with a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun.

The man, who officials later identified as Carl Harper, was taken into custody without using any force, according to the report.

While Harper was being taken into custody, fentanyl was found in his possession. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

According to LCSO, while Harper was in the Lee County Jail, he was aggressive and disorderly with other inmates and staff.

On Sept. 8, he refused to attend his first appearance and was said to be “disorderly” the rest of that day. Deputies then attempted to move him to another housing area and while they were doing so, he reportedly physically resisted and tried to kick deputies. He then reportedly spat on deputies.

Deputies placed Harper in a restraint chair, scraping his forehead in the process, Sheriff Carmine Marceno said.

While in restraints, Harper reportedly began showing signs of a medical emergency. According to LCSO, Harper died while receiving treatment.

Detectives with LCSO’s major crime units responded to investigate.

LCSO says that the medical examiner noted there were no signs of foul play.

In the report, LCSO says that there was bruising on the wrists and ankles, associated with handcuffs and shackles. Harper also had a broken rib, which is said to be typical with CPR.

Toxicology reports are still pending.

Muwakkil stressed that his organization did not tour the facility "to be detectives." He said that during their tour of the jail, no inmate attempted to discuss matters related to this incident, or to misconduct or excessive force in general.

"Had there been a culture or pattern of abuse, some of the men that I know from growing up with would not have hesitated to tell me," he said. "They did not. They were only glad to see us be able to walk into the jail as citizens and check on them."

Muwakkil said there will not be any civil rights complaints filed as a result of the incident.