Wayne County Jail inmate dies of 'asphyxiation' after fight

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Police are investigating the death of a 29-year-old man who died early Wednesday morning of asphyxiation after fight at Wayne County Jail in downtown Detroit.

Sheriff Benny Napoleon, who oversees the jail, said the inmate was housed at the jail's Division 2 facility, at 525 Clinton.

"Inmates admitted to a fight earlier," prior to the victim's death, Napoleon said. 

That morning, inmates alerted a guard that a fellow inmate was in ill health.

The guard alerted a nurse, who called Detroit EMS, which pronounced the inmate dead at the scene, Napoleon said. 

Detroit Police Department got the call about 12:12 a.m., said spokeswoman Janae Gordon.

The inmate's name is Antonio James. Records and interviews with jail officials do not immediately make it clear why James was jailed.

Antonio James, 29, died Wednesday after a fight at Wayne County Jail. The cause of his death was not immediately known.

Division 2 houses some of Wayne County's "toughest inmates," Napoleon said.

Police believe the fight involved two men, the victim, and a second inmate, 37. That inmate was already in custody but was also "detained" related to suspicion of his involvement in the fight, Gordon said.

Detroit Police Department is investigating the death as a homicide; Wayne County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident internally as well, Napoleon said. 

Wayne County Prosecutor's Office has not yet received a warrant request, said spokeswoman Maria Miller.

The victim's cause of death was confirmed by the Wayne County Medical Examiner.