Officer on leave without pay during prisoner death investigation

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - An officer at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center is on administrative leave without pay after putting an inmate into a headlock earlier this month, which investigators say led to the inmate's death from spinal injuries.

Sheriff Leon Lott said Matthew Green, 58, died on August 24 of blunt force trauma to the neck, nearly a week after being found unresponsive in his holding cell at the detention center.

Lott said Forest Acres police arrested Green shortly after 11:00pm on August 16 for public intoxication. While Green was being booked, deputies say a detention center officer restrained Green by putting him into a "full Nelson" headlock before placing him into a holding cell.

Surveillance video shows the officer calmly frisking Green before suddenly putting him into a headlock and forcing him into another room. As the video does not include sound, it's not clear what led to the officer's action.

Detention center officials said Green was found unresponsive around midnight. He was taken to the Dorn Veterans Administration Hospital, according to Lott, where he died after spending several days in a coma.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts determined that Green's death was caused by blunt force trauma to the neck. Watts said Green's neck was not broken, but the headlock incident injured his spinal cord.

Lott did not name the officer involved, but said he has been placed on administrative leave without pay during the investigation. On Tuesday, a Richland County spokeswoman said the officer's headlock was not an approved form of restraint.

Richland County deputies are investigating the circumstances of Green's death, and Lott said Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson will determine whether charges are appropriate.

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