Crime - Sacto 911

Inmate’s Sacramento jail death blamed on cocaine overdose

The cause of death for Edward Shabbaz Currie, a Sacramento man who died in police custody in February, was determined to be cocaine intoxication, according to the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.

The coroner ruled Currie’s death an accidental overdose.

Currie, 31, had a medical emergency Feb. 20 at the nurse’s station at the Sacramento County Main Jail while undergoing medical clearance to be booked into the facility.

He had been arrested that night 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.” 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.

Shortly after his death, Currie’s distraught parents questioned how a healthy, athletic man could suddenly die. Efforts to reach Currie’s parents on Tuesday were not successful.

Currie had a history of drug arrests and probation violations dating back to 2006.

He was a straight-A student at Pittsburg High School, according to family. He played both quarterback and defensive back and would come out at halftime to play trumpet with the band.

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 father, an electrician, go on service calls.

Sacramento Police Department spokesman Sgt. Bryce Heinlein said Tuesday that the police investigation into Currie’s death is complete but could not release details. Heinlein said that the coroner’s results back up police findings.

Heinlein also said that officers followed proper protocol and performed their jobs correctly.

The investigation was handled by the Police Department, the arresting agency, because Currie had not yet been placed in custody in the jail, which is run by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Turnbull said in an email Tuesday that “our jail staff and nurses immediately began life-saving measures. Those efforts were continued until the arrival of emergency personnel from outside the facility.”

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews