Fifth member of Wayne County sheriff's department dies of COVID

Amelia Benavides-Colón
The Detroit News

Detroit — Cpl. Ernest Robinson, a 26-year veteran and one of the "bright stars" of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, died Tuesday after contracting COVID-19, Sheriff Raphael Washington said. 

Washington said Wednesday that Robinson had left the department for about six months after contracting COVID-19 and returned in May. He died of complications related to the illness, Washington said. 

"We used him regularly to sing, he was a singer, a great singer, and he would often sing our national anthem at various events," Washington said following a news briefing at the Sheriff's Office. "He will truly be missed."

Corporal Ernest Robinson, 50, died after contracting COVID-19.

Washington said when Robinson, 50, had returned to work last spring he was happy to swear him back in and tell him how much he'd been missed "and then, he succumbed to COVID," he said. Washington said he learned from Robinson's family that he'd been vaccinated against the virus. 

Robinson's death marks the fifth in the department due to COVID-19, including former Sheriff Benny Napoleon, 65, Cpl. John Joseph Wojciechowski, 57, deputy Dean Sevard, 51 and Cmdr. Donafay Collins, 63.

COVID-19 health mandates at the Sheriff's Office include masking and bi-weekly testing. Washington said he encourages vaccinations.

"We want to be sure that we are doing the right thing, that we are staying safe, among us all as we work together in our jails and other facilities in the Wayne County Sheriff's Office," he said. 

Washington said more than half of the sheriff department's general staff is vaccinated.