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Relatives demand to know how 31-year-old man died in Sacramento jail

Parents want answers after son dies in Sacramento County jail

Jewell Mahdi and Edward Currie Sr. say authorities have told them little about how their son Edward Currie Jr. died at the Sacramento County Main Jail on the night of February 20, 2016. Currie Jr. was arrested Saturday night in north Sacramento on
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Jewell Mahdi and Edward Currie Sr. say authorities have told them little about how their son Edward Currie Jr. died at the Sacramento County Main Jail on the night of February 20, 2016. Currie Jr. was arrested Saturday night in north Sacramento on

Family members of a young Sacramento man who died at Sacramento County Main Jail gathered Sunday and demanded to know what killed the former high school and college athlete.

Edward Currie, 31, father of four young children, was arrested Saturday night in North Sacramento on suspicion of drug possession. Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Justin Brown said there was no struggle during the arrest and no force was used.

Currie died shortly after arriving at the jail, police said. County coroner’s officials listed the cause of death as undetermined Sunday evening.

A police news release Sunday afternoon said Currie was taken to the nurses’ station at the jail for medical screening when he arrived. While there, he suffered an unspecified medical emergency. After CPR was administered, the Sacramento Fire Department rushed him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

More than a dozen of Currie’s relatives, most from the Bay Area, gathered Sunday at his mother’s apartment on Manzanita Avenue in Carmichael. Currie grew up in Pittsburg but moved to Sacramento about 10 years ago.

“Why is my nephew dead?” said Joshua Price Mahdi, Currie’s uncle. “My nephew was in perfect health.”

Currie’s mother, Jewell Mahdi, said she received a visit from a law enforcement chaplain about 3 p.m. Sunday informing her of her son’s death. She then went to the jail and the coroner’s office but received no answers. “They won’t give us any information,” she said.

More than a dozen people gathered Sunday night at a vigil held in the Better Images barber shop parking lot in North Sacramento, just a block away from where Currie was arrested Saturday. Candles flickered around a sedan in the parking lot as people hugged and huddled together.

Many expressed confusion and disbelief about the death.

Currie's girlfriend Lacy Lewis, 21, said she was shocked to learn of Currie's arrest and death through social media Saturday night.

"A bunch of people were posting 'Rest in peace' and that's how I found out," Lewis said. "I just have no idea what happened. I have no idea."

The last time she spoke to Currie was the night before his arrest. Like many friends and family gathered, Lewis said she was waiting to hear more details as they unfold.

Shortly after Currie’s name was released, about two dozen friends, some of them dating back to his junior high days in Pittsburg, posted condolences on Facebook. Many friends bemoaned his death as another example of a black man dying too young.

He was remembered as funny and generous. Some recalled playing football, basketball and baseball on the same teams. After graduating from Pittsburg High School, Currie played football at Grambling State University, his relatives said. More recently, he attended American River College.

Currie had four sons, ages 7 months to 9 years old, relatives said. “He was a loveable person; he just wanted to live day to day,” said Margaret Patrice Melbourne, 28, the mother of Currie’s youngest son, London.

“Too many African American fathers are dying for no reason,” said another aunt, Renee Flaggs.

Currie was arrested Saturday evening near the 2200 block of Northgate Boulevard in north Sacramento after officers said they found drugs in his possession during a search.

The Police Department statement said the homicide, internal affairs and crime scene investigations units will work with the city, the coroner’s office and the district attorney’s office to investigate Currie’s death.

Stephen Magagnini: 916-321-1072, @StephenMagagnini

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