LACKAWANNA, NY- Funeral services were held Thursday evening for a man who tried to kill himself while in the custody of Lackawanna police, and who spent five weeks on life support as a result.
The mother of Steven Sinwell, 30, reports that her son passed away in the hospital on Monday.
On August 15thLackawanna Police arrived at Sinwell’s Rich Place home where, according to a police report, they were summoned to check on Sinwell’s welfare after his ex-girlfriend called them to report that he was despondent and might hurt himself.
When they got there, police say the found Sinwell sitting in his vehicle in the driveway, where he told them he was okay.
But the report notes police also observed two suspected bags of cocaine on the floor of his vehicle, and so they arrested him for possession.
A few hours after he was locked up in a holding cell at Lackawanna police headquarters, according to Police Chief James Michel, officers checking on Sinwell found that he had attempted to strangle himself with the cord of a phone in the cell.
After they traveled to Buffalo from their home near Bethlehem Pennsylvania to stay by their son’s bedside, Sinwell’s parents accused police of not taking proper action regarding their son..
“When you get a welfare check on someone, I don't care if they're dancing, listening to music, invite you in for coffee, …if there's someone calling that they’re concerned someone is suicidal, you need to take them to a hospital,” Diane Sinwell told WGRZ-TV on August 23. “You need to get them medical attention. They (police) are not doctors, they're not medical professionals. Yes I blame them," Mrs Sinwell said.
On Thursday morning, Mrs. Sinwell contacted WGRZ expressing her wish to speak with us again, and directed us to come to the funeral home where calling hours for her son were scheduled to take place.
However, upon our arrival, relatives informed us that she had changed her mind.
Since the onset of the case, Lackawanna police chief James Michel has declined to be interviewed on camera, citing the likelihood of litigation involving Sinwell’s death.
However, he did confirm he has met with the family, and has forwarded the findings of his internal investigation to the NYS Corrections Commission for their review.