Prosecutors Compiling ‘Best Practice’ Recommendations for Justice Center After Investigation of Evidence in Recent Jail Deaths Results in No Criminal Charges
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO – The Prosecuting Attorney’s investigations into two recent deaths at the St. Louis County Justice Center have concluded and no criminal charges will be issued in either case at this time. This determination is made after an exhaustive review of the existing evidence. The circumstances involving Mr. Shy and Mr. Catchings are tragic and deeply troubling. However, the evidence does not rise to the level of issuing criminal charges.
Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell and his staff have met with the families of both deceased individuals to discuss the facts and findings as they relate to each case and to hear their concerns. “I extend my deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of Mr. Shy and Mr. Catchings. These deaths are tragic and the circumstances surrounding them abhorrent. However, neither the facts nor evidence presented to my office rise to the level of bringing a criminal charge based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone is guilty of criminal neglect. That said, my office is compiling Recommendations of Best Practices based on the facts and patterns we learned from these investigations to do our part to make sure a tragedy like this does not occur in the future. These recommendations will be made public once completed. We anticipate that one such recommendation will relate to lowering jail population limits and increased staffing qualified to deal with situations involving serious medication condition(s).”
Mr. Shy died on the evening of February 23rd, 2019. Earlier that morning he had been taken to St. Mary’s Hospital on two separate occasions and, each time, released by the hospital back to the custody of Justice Services. During the course of the day, numerous individuals interacted with Mr. Shy. The Medical Examiner determined Mr. Shy’s cause of death to be gastrointestinal hemorrhage. The Medical Examiner did not find evidence
for prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Shy died as a result of medical neglect. Mr. Shy had been incarcerated at the Justice Center since February 14th, 2019 on a probation violation warrant related to a felony drug case.
Mr. Catchings’ death occurred on the evening of February 28th, 2019. He was incarcerated at the Justice Center for the previous 10 months after being arrested on April 17th, 2018, accused of assault in the first degree. The evidence shows Mr. Catchings did not report any medical problems until February 18th, 2019, at which time his condition deteriorated rapidly over the next 10 days. The evidence indicates that, at times, Mr. Catchings complained to jail staff as to his condition. At the same time, the evidence shows Mr. Catchings also informed jail staff and prisoners that he felt “fine.” The Medical Examiner listed the immediate cause of death as acute leukemia, more specifically “probable” acute promyelocytic leukemia. There is no indication that anyone at the Justice Center was aware of the severity of Mr. Catchings’ medical condition.
We are charged with following the law and prosecuting crimes based on wherever the fact and evidence may lead. In these two terrible cases, the evidence does not support our office issuing any criminal charge.