Breaking News
More () »

Crawford County Sheriff releases footage taken before inmate's death in custody

Crawford County deputies released footage of Jacob Jones and his uncle swallowing something in the back of a vehicle after their arrest. Jones later died in custody.

VAN BUREN, Ark. — On Friday, Oct. 14, Jacob Allen Jones, a 26-year-old man from Van Buren, was arrested by Van Buren Police. Jones and his uncle were both arrested with outstanding warrants and brought to the Crawford County jail shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.

Less than 24 hours later, Jones was dead.

On Sunday, 5NEWS contacted Crawford County Sheriff Jim Damante who said Jones was taken to a local hospital with "a slight pulse" and later died. Damante believes Jones died of natural causes but an investigation is underway.

Jones's mother, Catherine Jones, says her son was having a medical emergency and does not understand why he did not receive any attention.

"I have no idea, I just know he asked for help," said Catherine Jones. "My brother [Jacob's uncle] asked for help, several other inmates asked for help and nobody would help him for over five hours."

Fort Smith attorney David Powell is representing the family and says they are all frustrated with the delay in care.

RELATED: Deputies fired weeks after video surfaced of violent arrest in Arkansas

"Once [the deputies] were notified, action should have been taken and it wasn't," said Powell.

On Monday, Powell said he believes the delayed response by jail staff resulting in the death of Jones was out of negligence to provide basic care of an inmate.

"It's a shame that you've got other inmates who don't even know this young man, who are more concerned that they're making phone calls to people outside the facility trying to get help because the guards and staff on the inside are not doing their job," said Powell.

Jones's mother and family say they are in shock over his death and processing what happened.

"They were supposed to protect him, he was supposed to be safe and they let him die," said Catherine Jones.

Sheriff Damante said Arkansas State Police has been asked to assist in the investigation but Bill Sadler with Arkansas State Police tells 5NEWS they will not investigate because the inmate died in the care of a doctor.

However, the sheriff says an investigation is currently underway internally to determine what led to Jones not receiving medical attention for hours before his death.

RELATED: Benton County Sheriff's Office identifies deputy involved in deadly shooting

Jones's family hopes the results of the investigation create change.

"I would like to see that they're a little bit more careful during their hiring," said Catherine Jones. "They train these deputies a bit better and that the ones that were there that wouldn't help him are punished, but I want them to pay attention to them in the back."

Sheriff Damante confirmed that no deputies have been placed on leave following the death of Jones. 

Jones's body was sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy.

On Oct. 19, the sheriff's department released footage from the back of the police car after Jones and his uncle were arrested. 

They are both seen getting something out of their back pockets and then leaning forward, alleged by Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante as ingesting bags of illegal drugs.

"In the interest of transparency, I'm releasing the footage from the cruiser camera to the media and the public," Sheriff Damante said in a statement.

In the statement, Damante confirms that after speaking with the medical examiner, Jones's death was caused by a drug overdose.

"I've spoken to the medical examiner already and, while we won't know what type of drugs the man took until toxicology reports are back, the medical examiner confirmed that the bag he swallowed broke open in the man's stomach and the cause of death was drug overdose."

The Sheriff also said if any Crawford County employees "violated our administrative policies, I won't hesitate to hold them accountable."

Posted by Crawford County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, October 19, 2022

5NEWS will update this article with more information as it becomes available.

Follow 5NEWS on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Download the 5NEWS app on your smartphone:

Stream 5NEWS 24/7 on the 5+ app: How to watch the 5+ app on your streaming device

To report a typo or grammatical error, please email KFSMDigitalTeam@tegna.com and detail which story you're referring to.

Before You Leave, Check This Out