Five Georgia police officers have been fired after a man was found hanging in an interrogation room in early April.
The Savannah Police Department announced Monday that it had wrapped up a pair of investigations related to the death of William Harvey: one looked into Harvey’s death itself while the other stemmed from an “inappropriate” group chat between the officers that discussed his suicide, according to a news release.
The officers involved were Cpl. Silver Leuschner, Sgt. Michael Kerr, Sgt. Christopher Hewett, Cpl. Erica Tremblay and Officer David Curtis.
“I promised the family that we would thoroughly investigate it internally and determine whether rules were broken or not followed and that we would have accountability,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said at a news conference Monday.
Harvey, 60, was brought in for questioning about an aggravated assault on April 3. He was left alone in an interview room. Investigators returned and found him suffering from “injuries sustained by an object in his possession,” The Savannah Morning News reported, citing police.
Officers tried and failed to revive Harvey. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation later ruled his death a suicide, the department said.
Savannah police launched an investigation soon after, which ended with the firings of two officers — Leuschner and Kerr — and the suspension of a third in connection to Harvey’s suicide.
In late April, the department launched a second probe into a group chat between the officers that mentioned Harvey’s in-custody death and included a message with an insensitive meme/GIF attached, police said.
That investigation ended with the termination of the three other officers: Hewett, Tremblay and Curtis, according to Savannah Police. Authorities cited violations in the officers’ supervisory responsibility and of professional standards, as well as insubordination, as the reasons for the disciplinary action.
Harvey’s family said they were relieved Monday with the news of the firings, but added there are still unanswered questions about their loved one’s death.
“It’s just been hard finding out what happened and how it happened,” Harvey’s son, Michael Harvey, said, according to The Savannah Morning News. “We had so many questions and we’ve got some answers. But we’re not going to stop until we get all our questions answered.”
“We just want to know the truth,” he added.
Four of the fired officers appealed their terminations to the city manager, who ultimately upheld the department’s decision.