Cuyahoga County Jail Inmate Dies, Had Sought Bond Release Due to Medical Issues

click to enlarge Cuyahoga County Jail Inmate Dies, Had Sought Bond Release Due to Medical Issues
Cuyahoga County Justice Center and Jail. Photo by Tim Evanson/FlickrCC

Shondo Moffitt, a 39-year-old inmate, collapsed at the Cuyahoga County Jail and died after being transported to MetroHealth by ambulance on Monday, a county spokesperson confirmed to Scene.

A cause of death won't be known until the Medical Examiner finishes the autopsy, but the detectives bureau, as well as the MetroHealth jail staff, are investigating.

He'd been in the county jail since Feb. 15 when he was arrested for failing to appear for a sentencing hearing after pleading guilty in March 2021 to attempted improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle.

Moffitt's public defender just two weeks ago filed a motion in the case asking the judge to reinstate his personal bond due to medical issues.

"He has been diagnosed with excessively high blood pressure and kidney issues, possibly a tumor," the filing reads. "Prior to his incarceration, Mr. Moffitt was being treated by a doctor at University Hospitals for his kidney issues. He is seeking release so that his health does not further deteriorate, and so that he may follow-up with his regular doctor. Mr. Moffitt will abide by any conditions that this Honorable Court seeks to impose on him in order to make his release possible, including house arrest and/or GPS monitoring."

Cuyahoga County Judge Kathleen Sutula had not yet ruled on the motion.

It's the second death of an inmate at the facility this year.

As Cleveland.com reported in January, jail officials had for more than a year failed to produce reports on inmate deaths in 2020, as required by county policy adopted after a string of nine jail deaths in 2018-2019 and the ensuing scandal that engulfed top county leaders and led to state and federal investigations, indictments, resignations, dozens of lawsuits and around $3.5 million in settlements so far.

The protocol is supposed to identify if there are any changes in policy that could have prevented the death.  Jail officials completed the reports in the weeks after Cleveland.com's story but, according to advocates, provide little information.

Staffing has remained a constant concern at the facility, which is currently operating with about 50 fewer corrections officers than full levels call for, according to the union that represents the corrections officers.