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Man in protective custody at New Bedford jail dies

July 25, 2013

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — A New Bedford man placed in protective custody in a county jail at the request of his daughter because he was drunk was assaulted in the cell and died about 14 hours later, authorities said.

Egidio Batista, 59, was pronounced dead about 8:15 a.m. Sunday at St. Luke’s Hospital. He was taken there Saturday night after a 24-year-old man allegedly pushed him and caused him to hit his head on the floor, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter, said Wednesday.

Batista had been in the cell at the Ash Street Jail with three other men for about seven minutes when he was assaulted, they said. Two guards reacted almost immediately, and after he was checked out by a nurse, Batista was taken to the hospital.

An autopsy is scheduled to determine a cause of death.

The man who allegedly pushed Batista was arraigned Monday on a charge of assault and battery and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury. Bail was set at $1,500. He had been in jail on a domestic assault charge.

Batista’s daughter is “devastated” by her father’s death and is questioning why he was put in a cell with others in his state and when he had not been charged with a crime, her lawyer told The Standard-Times (http://bit.ly/16cZY97 ).

“To me, it’s inexplicable why someone brought in on protective custody would be placed with someone else,” attorney Scott Bradley said.

Hodgson said group cells at regional lock-ups are common.

“We feel badly for the family. This is not something we ever like to see happen in our prison,” Hodgson said.


Information from: The (New Bedford, Mass.) Standard-Times, http://www.southcoasttoday.com

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