Officials are investigating the death of a 49-year-old man at Prince George’s County Jail in Upper Marlboro, Md., even as his wife is demanding answers.”I just want the truth of why my husband is dead,” Regina Shields, a Northeast Washington, D.C. resident, told NBC 4 Washington.
Metro Transit Police said they got into an altercation with Samuel Shields over a $2 fare at Addison Road Metro station on June 17. They pepper sprayed him and took him into custody.
According to the statement of charges against Shields, he was arrested for alleged theft under $100, obstructing and hindering and resisting arrest.
Regina Shields said that behavior does not sound like that of her husband, a Jamaican-born aspiring reggae artist, who went by the stage name, Potcovah.
“I’m very upset about what went on because he didn’t deserve this,” she said. “If he got violent either someone provoked him or whatever. But he’s not a violent person at all.”
Jail spokeswoman Yolonda Evans, however, confirmed that when Metro police brought Shields to the jail about 12:38 p.m., he was “disorderly” and had to be separated from the other inmates.
“They just keep saying he was talking loud, wouldn’t put on the uniform, and I don’t know what happened after that,” Regina Shields said in the interview.
According to Evans, while Samuel Shields was being processed for intake he went into “medical distress” though she wouldn’t go into specifics because of the ongoing investigation.
“Our emergency response team and our medical staff began to perform life-saving measures until paramedics arrived and took him to Southern Maryland Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11:57 p.m.,” the jail spokeswoman said.
The situation was a rare one for the jail, Evans added.
“Medical emergencies, we have them all the time,” she said. “[But], typically, we may experience an in-custody death once every 12-18 months. The majority of those are deemed suicides.”
Regina Shields acknowledged that her 460-pound spouse had suffered from serious medical conditions, including congestive heart failure, sleep apnea and mental illness. However, she doubted that those conditions caused her husband’s death.
“I think it was foul play,” she said. “I really do, in my heart.”