SHOREWOOD - A Shorewood police sergeant has been charged with obstructing an investigation into an inmate's suicide in a Shorewood jail cell.
Shorewood Police Sgt. Cody Smith, who was with the police department for 4 1/2 years, resigned from the police department Aug. 25. Ten days prior to resigning, Smith found an inmate unresponsive in a Shorewood jail cell.
Smith was responsible for checking on the welfare of the 39-year-old male inmate, who had been arrested for domestic violence at 2:25 a.m. Aug. 15. After making periodic welfare checks, video surveillance footage confirmed that Smith found the inmate had hung himself with his own clothing two hours after his arrest, at 4:19 a.m. Aug. 15.
Officers performed CPR and called the North Shore Fire Department, which transported him to a local hospital. Despite further lifesaving efforts, the inmate died in the hospital on Aug. 19. His cause of death was asphyxiation.
Smith was required to document his inspection times on a clipboard at the police department. After emergency medical personnel responded to the scene, video surveillance footage shows Smith removing the clipboard and documenting an additional inspection at 4:10 a.m. Video surveillance shows Smith did not check on the inmate at that time. Prior to finding the inmate at 4:19 a.m., Smith's last visit was at 3:33 a.m. That 46-minute gap is in accordance with state law enforcement standards, according to a criminal complaint.
State law requires that all deaths in police custody need to be investigated by an outside agency. The Milwaukee County Investigative Team, led by the Greenfield Police Department, reviewed the video surveillance footage in the police department and questioned Smith about the time of his welfare checks. Smith told officers three different times that all of the entries on the clipboard were accurate.
Ultimately, after being confronted with the video, Smith acknowledged that he falsely documented the additional visit. Smith told the Greenfield officers he was fearful after discovering the inmate had taken his own life, according to the complaint.
Smith was convicted March 30 of a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer, for which he paid a $500 fine and spent two days in jail, according to online court records.