Only on 12: Burke County inmate showed no suicidal signs

By: Diane Cho Email
By: Diane Cho Email

February 6, 2007

WAYNESBORO, Ga.---A Keysville man was found hanged in his cell in the Burke County Jail early yesterday morning. Officers believe 54-year-old Ezumer Palmer committed suicide.

Officials at the Burke County Jail tell us a jailer went to drop off Palmer's medications at around 7:20 Monday morning, and that's when they discovered he had died.

News 12 went into the Burke County Jail to find out why Palmer was not on suicide watch.

Inmates at the jail are free to roam beyond their eight by 15 foot brick cells during the day to watch TV or play games to pass the time.

That's exactly what Capt. Wayne Scott says Palmer was doing the night before his lifeless body was discovered in his cell.

"He was in a dayroom watching the Super Bowl and playing spades," Capt. Scott told News 12.

Even though a deputy mans the watchtower 24 hours a day to keep a close eye on the inmates, Capt. Scott admits visibility is limited behind cell doors.

Officials believe Palmer may have used that to his advantage.

"This guy never gave us any indicators he was suicidal," Capt. Scott said.

He says inmates often give warning signs to deputies that signal they may try to hurt themselves once left alone in their cells.

"We look for signs of depression during booking," Capt. Scott said. "It depends on whether they've been to jail before, if they seem stressed or crying."

Those warning signs put the inmate on "suicide watch". They're given special clothes and blankets with material so thick an inmate wouldn't be able to hang himself with it.

But Capt. Scott stresses Palmer never gave deputies the first warning, and that's why he was never put on the watch.

"It's the best you can do with the situation," he said. "Nothing's fool proof but you do the best you can."

While GBI investigators say there's no indication at this time this was anything but a suicide, they aren't ruling out the possibility that that may not have been the case.

We were expecting autopsy results today, but now the coroner says they won't know anything until tomorrow.

Capt. Scott tells us the last time an inmate committed suicide in their jail was more than 14 years ago.


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