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Jamaal Byrd was arrested on Sept. 30 because he was suspected of selling marijuana. On Oct. 1, he was found dead in his cell. Activists have been demanding answers for months and are reportedly getting little to no cooperation from police.

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According to The Washington Post, a D.C. police report claims he “was arrested Sept. 30 on suspicion of selling marijuana at a restaurant in the 1500 block of North Capitol Street. Byrd was transported to the District’s Central Cell Block at 300 Indiana Avenue NW, in the basement of D.C. police headquarters. It was there that Byrd and other arrestees were held until their initial hearing at D.C. Superior Court.” 

Less than seven hours later, Byrd was discovered in his cell. He was allegedly alone and passed out on his bed. A guard performed CPR and he was taken to a hospital. The 33-year-old was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m.

Roxane Johnson, Byrd’s mother said in a statement, “We need answers. My son was in great health. What happened to cause his death while in the custody of the DC Department of Corrections? Nothing will bring my son back — but I am demanding to know what happened to my son! He meant the world to me and my family.”

While D.C. police say he was arrested on suspicion of selling marijuana, Black Lives Matter in D.C. says, “Byrd was on his way to sign up for a job training program when he was stopped by police.”

Keena Blackman, a spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C. Department of Corrections, said in a statement on Friday, “Our condolences remain with his family during this difficult time.”

One user wrote on social media about Jamaal Byrd, “Jamaal Byrd was a sweet and respectful man, a loving father, brother and son. His life matters to his mother, his sister, his children and all of us who love and care about him. We demand to know the truth about his death.”

An investigation into his death is allegedly ongoing and autopsy results are pending. 

We hope the Byrd family gets justice. Our condolences go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.


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D.C. Man Arrested For Marijuana And Found Dead In His Cell Less Than 7 Hours Later  was originally published on