Hearing on teen inmate's suicide includes testimony of alleged intimidation

Jail suicide subject of criminal justice committee meeting

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Disturbing testimony was heard Tuesday in New Orleans City Council chambers after a 15-year-old murder suspect committed suicide while in jail.

Jaquin Thomas' family said he was confused and afraid.

A judge ordered Thomas to be tried as an adult, and he was being held in a special teen tier in the city jail, where he was the youngest inmate.

Testimony during the two-and-a-half-hour hearing indicated that Thomas was being picked on by older inmates.

"And what I saw was very troubling because he was eating a hotdog, and it seemed like he hadn't eaten in a long time, and I know he had a problem with people taking his food," said Thomas' sister, Jeanine McNeil. "He was being intimidated, and he was scared. He just didn't know where he was going or what the next step was."

"He did complete the suicide by hanging with a mattress cover which is black piece of cloth that slips over the outside of the mattress. It's approximately 7 feet long," said sheriff's attorney Blake Arcuri. "He additionally did have an Ace bandage around his neck, though that was not used to hang himself in the suicide. The entire incident is captured on the jail's video surveillance cameras."

No one was actually monitoring the cameras.

Thomas was pronounced dead at University Medical Center one hour after his body was found.

Sheriff Marlin Gusman did not attend the hearing.

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