Circumstances of Elizabeth in-custody inmate death under investigation

The Union County Prosecutor’s Office Professional Standards Unit is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of a man’s death that occurred late last week, while he was in custody of the Elizabeth Police Department, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo announced Wednesday.

At approximately 5:40 a.m. on Wednesday, September 18, Elizabeth Police Department officers responded to a location on the 400 block of Morris Avenue to find a small fire in a dumpster outside a restaurant, according to the preliminary investigation. The fire was quickly extinguished without incident, and no one was injured.

At approximately 1:45 the next day, Thursday, September 19, a patrol unit at the same location arrested an adult male on two open warrants out of Elizabeth.

At approximately 10:40 a.m., later that morning, while in police custody, the man reported feeling unwell, and he was transported to Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth for medical treatment. The hospital then declared the man medically stable to re-enter police custody shortly before 2 p.m.

At approximately 4 a.m. the next morning, Friday, September 20, officers performing a welfare check on the man in his Elizabeth Police Department holding cell found him unresponsive, and they began rendering emergency medical aid. Responding medical professionals continued rendering aid, and pronounced him dead at the scene approximately 15 minutes later.

The deceased male has been identified as a 58-year-old Elizabeth resident whose identity is currently being withheld pending confirmation of notification of next of kin.

A single charge of third-degree arson against the man was pending after he was identified as the person allegedly responsible for the fire that occurred the day before his arrest.

This investigation remains ongoing, and no further information is being released at this time.