An investigation is underway after an inmate at the Forsyth County jail died Monday. In a statement issued Wednesday, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said the man killed himself.
James Michael Anderson, 48, of Lexington, was found unresponsive in his cell Monday, the sheriff’s office said. Detention officers tried to save Anderson’s life until medical personnel came, but Anderson died. It was not clear from the news release whether Anderson died at the jail or at a hospital.
The sheriff’s office did not provide any other details about Anderson’s death. Sheriff’s office officials did not say when on Monday Anderson was found or whether Anderson was in a single cell. They also did not say whether Anderson was on suicide watch and did not provide details on how Anderson is alleged to have killed himself.
Annie G. Sims, a spokeswoman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, declined to answer specific questions about Anderson’s death, noting that this is an active investigation.
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Anderson had been incarcerated at the jail since July 8 on charges of failure to appear in court, possession of a controlled substance in a jail and other charges. On Monday, various prosecutors filed court papers voluntarily dismissing pending charges against Anderson, court records show.
“As is our standard procedure, we immediately notified the Forsyth County Public Health Department Director and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Chief Jail Inspector of the death,” the sheriff’s office said.
The sheriff’s office said it also contacted the State Bureau of Investigation and asked the agency to conduct an independent investigation into Anderson’s death. The sheriff’s office’s Professional Standards Division also will investigate whether any violations of policy or procedure took place.
This is the second jail suicide that the sheriff’s office has reported since 2020. On July 7, 2020, according to the sheriff’s office, Anthony Robert Giles, 31, of Winston-Salem, was found dead.
At the time, the sheriff’s office told the Journal that a suicide note was found, but an autopsy report later said no suicide note was found. The sheriff’s office has never addressed the discrepancy.
Giles’ autopsy also said he hanged himself with a sheet in his cell and that he had previously been on suicide watch.
Sims said Wednesday that all external and internal investigations determined that Giles killed himself and that detention officers did not violate any policy or procedure.