Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento man who died in police custody suffered seizure, family told

Edward Currie
Edward Currie Courtesy of Edward Currie Sr. and Jewell Mahdi

Edward Shabbaz Currie, the Sacramento man who died in police custody Saturday night, appeared to suffer a seizure shortly before his death, officials said Monday.

The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office said witnesses reported Currie, 31, had a seizure in the nurse’s station at the jail while undergoing medical clearance to be booked into the facility. He had been arrested at about 8:38 p.m. near the 2200 block of Northgate Boulevard after leaving Better Images barbershop.

Sacramento Police said Currie was observed walking quickly to a vehicle “and appeared to discard an unknown item.” Sgt. Justin Brown said police searched him and found drugs in his possession, but would not specify what type of drugs.

Currie was transported to the jail without a struggle. While undergoing medical screening, Currie “suffered a medical emergency” around 9:32 p.m, police said. The jail medical staff began CPR immediately, but Currie was unresponsive, police said. The Sacramento Fire Department rushed him to Sutter Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 11:09 p.m.

Currie’s distraught parents – who on Sunday questioned how a healthy, athletic man could suddenly die – said Monday that law enforcement officials and the coroner’s office told them Currie suffered a seizure.

The former star football and baseball player had no history of seizures, “nothing like that,” said his father, Edward Currie Sr.

The coroner’s office listed the cause of death as undetermined and were expected to begin performing an autopsy on Monday.

Currie had a history of drug arrests and probation violations dating back to 2006, but his family said they didn’t know much about that.

“I had no knowledge he was a drug addict or anything like that,” his father said. “Whenever I’d seen him he didn’t have any problems at all.”

Currie Sr. said he planned to move from Pittsburg to Sacramento to help raise his four grandsons. Currie’s mother, Jewell Mahdi, lives in Carmichael.

Currie was a straight-A student at Pittsburg High School, said his aunt Millicent Price. He played both quarterback and defensive back and would come out at halftime to play trumpet with the band.

Price and other family members said Currie went to Grambling State University on a full scholarship and was almost drafted into the NFL, but didn’t finish and moved to Sacramento in 2005 to be with his mother. He did odd jobs, occasionally helping his dad, an electrician, go on service calls, said Currie Sr.

He also worked in the refrigeration industry, and recently was working at a sports complex in south Sacramento, helping kids learn to play basketball and baseball, said Tanjie Chennelle Alston, who said she has known Currie for more than seven years and is the mother of his 5  1/2 -year-old son Isaiah.

Currie attended American River College between 2003 and spring 2007, playing both football and baseball and majoring in physical education, said college spokesman Scott Crow.

Currie’s problems with the law began in January 2006, when he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance while driving, according to Sacramento Superior Court records. He was eventually given diversion and sentenced to the sheriff’s work project after failing to complete a program for first offenders.

He was arrested again in June 2009 for unlawful possession of a loaded weapon. He pleaded no contest to unlawful possession of a weapon, but the charge of it being loaded was dismissed. Currie ultimately served jail time after violating his probation, records show. He pleaded no contest in 2011 to possession of a controlled substance and was eventually sentenced to 90 days after his probation was revoked. Last June, Currie pleaded no contest to reckless driving under the influence, and was sentenced to five days in jail and informal probation.

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Mahdi, Currie’s mother, said he recently told her he wasn’t going to use marijuana anymore. “I could see a change in him,” she said.

Alston said Currie’s problems with the law were never major. “He unfortunately got caught up with some of the wrong people,” she said. “Everybody’s entitled to make mistakes.

“He’s always been a good dad, never been disrespectful to me,” she added. “Whatever Isaiah needed, he would find a way. He’s a really sweet guy.”

At a Sunday night vigil in his memory at Better Images Barbershop, Alston said Isaiah told her he wanted to say a prayer for his dad, and then addressed the crowd. “I know my daddy’s not coming back; I know my daddy’s in heaven,” the boy said. “I miss my daddy and love my daddy very much.”

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

Stephen Magagnini: 916-321-1072, @StephenMagagnini