Family seeks answers in father’s death while in custody at Ouachita County Jail

Arkansas News

OUACHITA COUNTY, Ark. (02/05/20) — The family of Isaiah Rucker Sr. are pleading for answers concerning their father’s death four months ago in a Ouachita County Jail.

“How did he die waiting on a court date,” Rucker’s son, Isaiah Rucker Jr. said. “My dad turned 55 years old in that cell and never got to see a day outside of that cell.”

According to court documents, Rucker Sr. was arrested on September 11 and was detained on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal trespass.

Rucker spent three weeks in jail before he died on October 4th. When the family received the news, they said they were shocked.

“My sister received a call saying that my dad was found dead in his cell. They said they found his body was cold,” Rucker Jr. said. “He was a heavy diabetic so he had to have insulin shots twice a day. If anything took place in there he had to be physical harm or he had to die from not being able to have the right amount of insulin.”

Rucker and his four other siblings said they tried to request the autopsy report from the Arkansas State Crime Lab. When he contacted the agency, he was told he had to contact the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Union County.

The attorney’s office told him they hadn’t received a request from the Arkansas State Crime Lab to release that information.

“It was like getting hit back and forth between the Arkansas State Crime Lab and the Prosecuting Attorney’s office,” he said.

The Rucker family later received a rejection letter stating they couldn’t get the information until the prosecuting attorney’s office finished the investigation.

According to Jeffrey Rogers, Prosecuting Attorney for the 13th Judicial District, there is a process when releasing autopsy reports.

He said it’s standard for the Arkansas State Police to conduct independent investigations into an inmate’s death and when a case is open and active, they don’t release information until the case is closed.

According to Rucker, he spoke to the A.S.P on January 28th. He said an investigator named Terry Smith told him they had already turned the case over to the prosecuting attorney’s office.

During their phone conversation, Smith also told him that there was no foul play suspected in his father’s death and that he died of natural causes.

When we spoke to Rogers today, he said an employee sent over paperwork to the Arkansas State Crime Lab last week to close the case. He didn’t know what date the paperwork was sent but the said the case is in fact closed.

Rogers was also able to confirm there was no foul play in Rucker’s death but didn’t know any other information that was in the report.

Rucker said he nor his attorney have been notified of the case being closed. Rucker questioned the investigation saying “these facilities have cameras/video of the areas holding those who are there. An investigation of a closed and secure area shouldn’t take 4 months to conduct.”

“If I’m told that it was a natural death then it has to do something with his insulin,” Rucker said.

The family believes the wait for information was established to “cover up the acts of those who killed his father”. He said they “withheld life-threatening medicine from him” which he says is a “clear disregard and negligence.”

Rucker said his dad was found in the women’s barracks which he is confused as to why he was even there. Rucker said a female inmate that has since been released from jail saw the incident. The woman knows the family and told them she witnessed their dad begging to go to the hospital to live.

“She heard him screaming saying hey I need my medication. I need my medication,” he said. “I need to go to a hospital.”

Instead, Rucker said they ignored him. Despite the wait for information, he believes the county is at fault and will continue to fight his father’s case. He believes others have been in the same situation as him but the cases get swept under the rug.

“They’re still working. They’re still living and enjoying life and my dad is gone,” he said.”This is something that’s extremely preventable especially when it’s administered in a timely manner.”

We reached out to the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department for comment and they haven’t responded.

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