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Sussex Countian
  • Sussex inmate's death ruled a homicide, prison staff under investigation

  • A death certificate issued last month by the Delaware Assistant Medical Examiner shows that a 48-year-old Wilmington man incarcerated at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown died of multiple blunt force injuries sustained while struggling with prison staff.
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  • A death certificate issued last month by the Delaware Assistant Medical Examiner shows that a 48-year-old Wilmington man incarcerated at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown died of multiple blunt force injuries sustained while struggling with prison staff.
    Ronald Shoup, who arrived at SCI on Feb. 20, died at 9:25 a.m. on Feb. 27 at Beebe Healthcare in Lewes. According to the Delaware Department of Correction, Shoup was being held in default of bail on the charges of fifth offense DUI, driving while suspended or revoked, felony noncompliance with conditions of recognizance and other traffic-related offenses.
    The DOC issued a news release on Feb. 28 announcing Shoup had died, but did not release the circumstances surrounding his death. John Painter, spokesman for the DOC, said Monday that information is still limited due to the Delaware State Police homicide unit’s ongoing investigation.
    The death certificate states Shoup’s cause of death was “multiple blunt force injuries” and that he “sustained lethal trauma while being restrained multiple times by prison response team.” The certificate states the injury occurred at 5:07 a.m. and Shoup was found dead “in an isolated cell in the infirmary.”
    Although Painter said information is limited, he did provide a timeline of events prior to Shoup’s death.
    According to Painter, while in DOC custody it was determined that Shoup suffered from symptoms consistent with substance withdrawal. Shoup was moved to the SCI infirmary on Feb. 25.
    Around 6:40 p.m. on Feb. 26, Painter said the medical staff requested assistance from the DOC security staff to “forcibly administer emergency medications due to [Shoup’s] severe agitation and risk of injuring himself and the medical staff. The DOC security staff assisted the medical staff with the administration of the emergency medications.”
    Around 1 a.m. on Feb. 27, Painter said the medical staff again requested assistance from DOC security staff to forcibly administer emergency medications. Again, Painter said Shoup was severely agitated and the security staff helped administer the medication.
    At 5 a.m. the same day, Painter said “the mental health observer noted being able to see [Shoup’s] chest rise and fall indicating breathing, however, within minutes, the mental health observer did not see chest movements. Medical staff entered the room and initiated CPR after [Shoup] was found unresponsive.”
    Painter said Shoup was transported by ambulance to Beebe Healthcare around 5:40 a.m. and he was pronounced dead about four hours later.
    Painter declined to comment on whether any prison staff members are being reprimanded in relation to this incident, nor would he comment on whether the prison or the DOC are planning to change or adjust any of its procedures in light of Shoup’s death.
    Page 2 of 2 - Sgt. Paul Shavack of the DSP said the investigation into Shoup’s death is ongoing.
    “We’re conducting interviews and reviewing surveillance footage to determine what the circumstances were [surrounding Shoup’s death],” Shavack said. “When we’re able to, I’m sure we’ll provide additional information.”
    The family of Shoup has retained the services of the Dover-based attorney Stephen Hampton, who said a civil suit against the DOC is entirely possible.
    “Right now, we’re waiting to see what comes of the DSP investigation,” Hampton said. “Until that’s completed and we get the full autopsy report, there are still a lot of questions we can’t answer.”
    Hampton said Shoup was an accomplished chef who developed an alcohol addiction during his many years in the restaurant business. Shoup’s police encounters were almost entirely alcohol-related, Hampton said.
    Although Shoup had problems, Hampton said no one deserves what he went through.
    “It’s just extremely sad because, if you think about it, hospitals get people who come in all the time who are agitated, under the influence or having a breakdown and I’ve never heard of them beating someone to death in order to give them a shot,” Hampton said. “They’re able to restrain and medicate people on a daily basis without needing to send in four or five big correctional officers to pound on the patient.”

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