A group of family members and community activists took to the Benton County Justice Center on Thursday to protest the death of a mentally ill teen who was an inmate at the jail.
The family of Marc A. Moreno, 18, is outraged by a video released Wednesday by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office that showed the teen being booked into jail, they said.
The 16-minute video showed Moreno being dressed in a suicide smock and placed in a restraint chair. Police say he had made suicidal statements and spit in a patrol car.
It was recorded eight days before he was found dead, alone in his single-person, padded cell. An autopsy did not reveal a cause of death, and suicide is not suspected.
Family members told the Herald that the video disproves authorities’ claims that Moreno was being aggressive.
“Everyone is upset. The video was some bull----,” said Erica Moreno, Marc’s sister. “The statements they were saying that he was erratic and his behavior was a threat, I didn’t see that at all. He cooperated.”
Everyone is upset. The video was some bull----. Erica Moreno, Marc’s sister
The family was notified by Sheriff Steve Keane before the video was released. Keane made the video public to show the state that Moreno was in when he was brought to the jail and to try to be as transparent as possible, he said.
The Moreno family has hired a lawyer. They requested Moreno’s body be released from the coroner’s office so a funeral can held soon.
Moreno was bipolar and schizophrenic. He suffered from mental health issues when he was arrested March 3 at the Benton & Franklin Crisis Response Unit.
Police say Moreno acted aggressive while at Crisis Response and he was arrested on several misdemeanor warrants.
Moreno acted erratic, refused to eat, yelled out and smashed food during his time at the jail, officials said. He was housed in a safety cell used to keep inmates from harming themselves.
Jail staff performed more than 600 checks on Moreno during his time in custody, including checks every 30 minutes, officials said. He was evaluated by a mental health professional twice a day.
Despite the extra attention, the teen died from unknown causes March 11. Jail staff found him lying on his side about 7:30 a.m.