Family Pressing For Information After Man Dies In Custody

The death of Ernest Lee Smalley Jr., 33, is still under investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

In the meantime, the Seneca man’s family is pushing for answers.

Smalley was booked on a family court bench warrant into the Oconee County Detention Center on October 23, 2015.

Three days later, he was found unconscious inside his holding cell.

“He loved his children, wholeheartedly, with everything in him,” said his sister Erica Smalley.

Erica, along with other family members and friends, stood outside the detention center on Monday to share their plea for help.

“It’s really hard because we really can’t even grieve properly because we don’t know what happened to him,” said Erica Smalley.

Smalley’s death was classified as natural.  The coroner says he suffered from cardiac arrest.

He was treated at two nearby hospitals but died on Tuesday, October 27th.

Autopsy results show Smalley died from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage and complications of Delirium tremens — a condition often brought on by withdrawal from alcohol.

“If he was in fact suffering from DTs, that’s something that could have been prevented with the proper medical treatment at early onset,” said his sister.

The family says they’re currently in the process of getting an independent autopsy.  They’re also looking to hire a lawyer.

Monday evening, 7 News received an additional response from the coroner’s office.

Coroner Karl Addis says the autopsy did find contusions, in four areas, on Smalley’s body.

“Based on conversations with detention center staff, Mr. Smalley was not involved in any type of known altercation with detention center staff or other inmates,” said Addis.

 

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