By Ruben Castaneda and Avis Thomas-Lester
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 5, 2009
Attorneys for the current and former Prince George's County jail officers who were investigated in the death last year of a 19-year-old jail inmate said yesterday that their clients cooperated fully with the probe because they are innocent and had nothing to hide.
The attorneys commended Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey for not seeking indictments, saying he put justice over political considerations. Ivey said on Tuesday that, after almost a year of investigation, he does not expect any of the officers to be charged in the death. His decision is being sharply criticized by civil rights activists and the family of the inmate, Ronnie L. White.
White was found dead in his cell June 29, less than 48 hours after he was arrested on charges of killing a county police officer, Cpl. Richard S. Findley. State medical examiners found that White died by asphyxiation and ruled his death a homicide.
Speaking at a news conference outside the Upper Marlboro courthouse, attorneys for the two men who were the focus of the 11-month investigation, Ramon Davis and Anthony McIntosh, said their clients had no reason not to cooperate.
"There was no opportunity, no motive, no murder," said attorney George Harper, who represents Davis.
Jail authorities initially said that Davis, one of the two officers assigned to the maximum-security cellblock, found White's body. Davis resigned from his job this year for reasons unrelated to the White investigation, Harper said.
Timothy Fitts, the attorney for McIntosh, acknowledged that, about 10 days after the death, McIntosh told investigators that he, not Davis, found White's body. McIntosh did not at first come forward to say he found White because he panicked, Fitts said.
"There is no safety issue at the jail with respect to officers exacting revenge on inmates," said Clothilda Harvey, attorney for the Prince George's County Correctional Officers Association, the union that represents jail guards.
On Tuesday, Ivey said he did not plan on charging anyone for White's death but might seek lesser charges, such as obstruction of justice or giving a false statement. Ivey said he welcomed calls by civil rights leaders for the Justice Department to take over the case. Justice officials said they will review the evidence before deciding whether to open an investigation.
Late last year, a county grand jury that considered evidence in the case issued no indictments. Ivey has declined to say whether he asked the grand jury to indict anyone, or simply presented the evidence.
Ronnie Lionel Harris, White's father, said he is angry that nearly a year after his son died, no one has been identified as a suspect. He said he is scheduled to meet with Ivey this morning to discuss the case.
"They've had a year to try and find out who did this and they still haven't," said Harris, 45. "Ronnie died inside that jail. There were people in there. Still, a year later, they know who was in there, but they don't know who killed Ronnie. What is that? What does that say?"