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UPDATE: Arlington NAACP wants Justice Dept. probe of county jail

55-year-old man held since late November died on Dec. 12.

[Update 12/19/23:] The national NAACP has weighed in, sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice calling for an investigation of operations of the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Janette McCarthy Wallace, general counsel of the national organization, said the letter was sent in response to concerns about "egregious civil-rights violations" at the facility, operated by the Arlington County Sheriff's Office.

[Original article, 12/14/23:]

The NAACP Arlington Branch has reacted to news of a new in-custody death at the Arlington County Detention Facility by reiterating its call for the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation of cases and of the facility.

Nine people have lost their lives at the county detention center in the last eight years, and this death marks the second in-custody death within the previous four months, NAACP officials said.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a disregard for basic care at the Arlington County jail, and it will continue to lead to deaths at an alarming rate if the Department of Justice does not intervene," said Michael Hemminger, the NAACP branch president.

“Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and other county leaders have, again, been unwilling or unable to properly address the root problem. The death rate is accelerating and the conditions inside the jail remain inhumane and unsatisfactory,” Hemminger said. 

The NAACP is conducting its own investigation of the deaths in the jail, the organization said.

A 55-year-old man, identified by county officials as David Gerhard, who had been held in the Arlington County Detention Facility for the three weeks, died on Dec. 12. He was jailed for failure to comply with support obligations and contempt of court, county officials said.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine cause of death by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Sheriff’s Office said.