Prisoner advocates are raising questions about the death of a 52-year-old homeless man who died in police custody in Somerville early Monday morning after spending the weekend locked up at the police station.
William Reardon was discovered unresponsive in his cell in the Somerville Police Department at 4:53 a.m. Monday, said Jessica Venezia Pastore, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. No foul play is suspected and Reardon had no obvious signs of an injury, she said. The District Attorney’s Office is investigating.
The weekend was hot and humid, and the cells in Somerville are not air conditioned. Leslie Walker, director of Prisoners’ Legal Services, said people arrested Friday often have to spend the weekend in cells designed for holding prisoners only a few hours.
“There are a lot of questions that need to be addressed,” she said in an interview. “Was it too hot? Did he ask for help? Was someone watching him? It should not happen that a person should die in the custody of officials.”
Reardon had been arrested Friday on a warrant from Boston Municipal Court. The court issued the warrant after Reardon failed to appear for a scheduled arraignment last Thursday on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. The nature of the underlying charge that required Reardon to register was not available Thursday evening from the district attorney.
“There are a lot of questions. . . . It should not happen that a person should die in the custody of officials.’
The medical examiner is awaiting the results of toxicology tests before releasing the cause of death, said Venezia Pastore.
Somerville police Deputy Chief Paul J. Upton declined to comment, referring all questions to the district attorney.
Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone did not return a call to his office seeking an interview. The mayor’s executive director of communications, Tom Champion, said in an e-mail the mayor had been briefed on Reardon’s death on Monday morning.