ST. LOUIS – The chairman of the St. Louis Corrections Task Force says FOX 2’s investigation into a jail death should be getting as much attention as the recent riot that could be seen on live television Feb. 8.
Rev. Darryl Gray said he is alarmed that only KTVI had spoken to a man who says he saw a dead inmate inside the St. Louis Justice Center last November.
“Why wasn’t a material witness interviewed before now?” Gray said.
The reverend has now spoken to the witness, Eric Ware. No other authority has.
“From talking to Eric and the fact that no one has talked to him, as what I would consider a material witness, then it would lead me to believe there is either no investigation or the conclusion has already been reached,” Gray said.
The witness, Ware, says he saw 33-year-old Kevin Cavins dead inside a holding cell meant for sick inmates. In a police report obtained by FOX 2, a corrections lieutenant claimed he discovered Cavins dead when checking on his health.
Ware told FOX 2 he was there at the time while working with the inmate cleaning crew. He said it wasn’t a welfare check as the police report described. Ware says they only happened to find Cavins dead when the lieutenant let them in to clean the cell. Ware says he was also there when police came in to investigate and the officers asked jail staff for witnesses.
“They hid me. They hid me. That’s exactly what they did,” Ware said.
We asked if he thought jail staff hid him on purpose and Ware responded, “I think they did … Kind of like obstructing justice.”
Reverend Gray later said, “Why wouldn’t something like this get just as much attention as the disturbance on Feb. 6?”
That riot is what spurred the creation of the St. Louis Corrections Task Force. FOX 2 has been reporting repeatedly on the Nov. 8, 2020, jail death of Kevin Cavins, with no responses from leaders.
Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said they couldn’t talk about it because of litigation, even though no lawsuit has been filed.
“If someone died in the custody of the correctional center, there has to be an investigation,” Gray said. “Obviously, the correctional center cannot investigate itself. So, who does that fall to?”
The answer could be part of what the task force comes up with. It has a deadline of mid-March, which Reverend Gray says they will meet.