Selma man dies in SPD’s custody

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 11, 2004

Kirk Edwards, 26, of Selma, died while in police custody early Friday morning.

Edwards, of Mechanic Street, was being processed when he went into convulsions in the police blocking room.

He was immediately transported to Vaughan Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

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Dallas County Coroner Alan Dailey was called to the hospital to examine the body.

“There didn’t appear to be any marks on the body that I could see,” Dailey said.

Edwards’ body was turned over to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to determine the cause of death.

According to Selma Police Chief Robert Green, Edwards was arrested on a failure to appear in court warrant for a previous assault charge after a short chase.

“One of our officers was en route to his residence when he spotted a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed,” Green said. “He attempted to stop the vehicle.”

Green said the officer thought the vehicle had stopped in front of the Peoples Bank and Trust branch on Broad Street. When the officer approached Edwards’ car, it sped off, according to Green.

The officer then pursued the car again, until Edwards pulled over at the intersection of Martin Luther King Street and Voeglin Avenue.

“It had five occupants,” Green said. According to Green, all five attempted to escape on foot. “They were all captured.”

Green declined to give any information about the other four occupants.

“(Edwards) was given a citation for reckless driving and attempting to elude,” Green said. “He was arrested without incident, there was no force used. He did not resist.”

Two officers transported Edwards to the Selma Police Department.

Correctional officers were processing Edwards when he started having convulsions Green said.

Officers at the station contacted Haynes ambulance service and attempted CPR.

Edwards was transported to Vaughan Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Green said the Alabama Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the incident.

“We have been hearing a number of rumors and a lot of miscommunication about what transpired. To clear up and dispel all those rumors we have ascertained the services of an independent agency to look into the death of the victim,” Green said.

Green refused to name the officers involved in the arrest.

“I’d rather not give you that information at this particular point in time.

It’s still a pretty sensitive case right now, a lot of people are upset,” Green said. “I don’t want to give the names of my officers.”

Green did say that no disciplinary action was taken against any of the officers on duty, and that he felt none was necessary.

“There was no kind of force used. Nothing really happened out of the ordinary,” Green said. “I’m sure when the investigation is concluded by the ABI it will coincide with what I already know.”

While the cause of death was not known as of presstime, Green expects a preliminary autopsy report on Monday.

Green expressed condolences to Edwards’ family.

“I know him very well, I know him and his family. I dealt with him when he was younger,” Green said. “I empathize and sympathize with his family”

Members of Edwards’ family didn’t return phone calls regarding the incident.

Green said this was the first such incident he could recall.

“To my knowledge I’ve been here 23 years and we’ve never had an inmate die in custody,” Green said.