SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The Savannah Police Department
announced Monday that five officers have been fired in connection with the death
of a man who authorities say committed suicide
while left alone in a police interview
Following a private meeting with Savannah Mayor Van Johnson and Police Chief Roy Minter, the department confirmed the firings, which were first announced by an attorney for the family of the deceased, 60-year-old William Harvey.
Harvey was discovered dead at police headquarters on April
3 while being questioned in connection with an aggravated assault
. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation
released preliminary findings of its investigation on April 16, saying evidence showed Harvey died after hanging himself with his own shoe laces while left alone in the interview room.
Savannah police said in a statement Monday that two officers were fired for policy violations related to Harvey's interview: Sgt. Michael Kerr and Cpl. Silver Leuschner.
The officers were fired for failing to turn on video surveillance cameras in the room when Harvey was left alone, according to Francys Johnson, an attorney for Harvey's family.
“They failed to take the most basic step in policing,” Johnson said, adding, “That’s beyond the pale. We shouldn’t be left guessing what happened in an interrogation room because it should have been recorded.”
According to the police statement, three more officers were fired in connection with a text message shared among Savannah officers that made fun of Harvey's death.
Harvey's family, according to Johnson, has unanswered questions about his death and is awaiting the GBI's final report before deciding whether or not he committed suicide.
“Everything we’ve seen so far supports that,” Johnson said, “but we won’t get ahead of the report.”
He praised the mayor and police chief for conducting an investigation into Harvey's death and taking disciplinary action, and stated that the next step will be to determine whether criminal charges or civil litigation are warranted.