Inmate death investigation update

The door to the holding room where Raul Pinet was found lifeless. Note the window's openings were narrowed, because previous inmates had shattered the glass. / Photojournalist Craig McDowell

These developments in the death of Raul Pinet, while in custody at Onondaga County's Justice Center:{>}Sheriff Kevin Walsh took us on a tour of the Justice Center on Monday afternoon, saying the Syracuse Police van that brought Pinet to the jail came into the garage holding area, but then Pinet refused to get out. The jail's emergency response team was called, and a Lieutenant talked him out, but then they say he became combative so restraining bands--on his chest, middle and legs--were put on so he could be carried through the security doors into the booking area.Sheriff Walsh says Pinet was examined by an on-staff nurse, who said his injuries did not appear life-threatening, and then he was put in a holding room with rubber walls and floors, his restraints and clothes cut off. Walsh says Pinet was monitored by camera, and by a deputy who stood at windows looking down into the room. When they realized he was not moving, they re-assembled the emergency team and went back into the room (Walsh says there's a protocol because inmates have faked stillness and attacked deputies), called an ambulance, brought in an AED and began cpr. The ambulance arrived within 5 minutes and took Pinet to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.Walsh says all the deputies are working normal shifts today.{>}The woman who called 911 on Friday night tells us that Pinet came knocking on her door, saying someone was trying to kill him, and to call police. She says he also had picked up her 7 year old and said he wanted to take him home for protection---the woman moved all her children into a locked room in the house. Another woman came by and she says he picked up her child, and she became upset, but that child also was put in the locked room with others. The woman also says (through an interpreter, a cousin of Raul Pinet's) that he asked to use her cell phone, but could not dial, so she called 911.When police arrived, she says Pinet was in the house, calm and talking. She says she got scared of the police and went further into the house, and when she came back, he was on the porch, with his feet by the door and his head on the lowest step--his face 'unrecognizeable.' She says she went in and came out and he was on the ground, his arm and leg pulled up behind him and a pool of blood around his head. The woman says she's having trouble sleeping, thinking she called for help and instead say Pinet die. Pinet's cousin says she thought he was on cocaine on Friday night.{>}Investigators are waiting for a toxicology report, which normally takes 10-14 days, according to Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh---however this case is being fast-tracked. Syracuse Police say they're waiting til those results before making a statement. An internal investigation is underway. Police did not respond when we asked if the officers involved are still on normal duty.{>}An autopsy's been done by Onondaga County's Medical Examiner, however results are not expected to be made public until the toxicology report is also done.{>}We have filed a Freedom of Information request to see the 911 transcripts and tapes of the original calls on Friday night.911's director tells us the tapes and other information have been turned over to the Sheriff's Department investigation.

{>}The State Commission on Corrections will also do an investigation, as it would of any jail death. Expectation is it will not begin until after the toxicology report is done.Related story: Father talks about son's death