Police dispatcher charged in death of Metro East jail inmate

Police dispatcher charged in death of Metro East jail inmate

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VENICE — A dispatcher with the Venice Police Department has been charged after an inmate died of unknown causes at a time when she was supposed to be checking in on prisoners.

The Madison County state's attorney charged the dispatcher, Deborah Maries Haynes, with the crime of "official misconduct" in connection with the inmate's February death. 

Haynes, 61, of Venice, "intentionally or recklessly failed to perform a mandatory duty" by failing to check on the welfare of prisoners, according to court documents.

Inmate Clifton C. Lovett, 38, of Alton was not breathing in his cell at 2:55 a.m. on Feb. 21. Coroner Stephen P. Nonn said in a press release that Lovett was taken to Gateway Regional Medical Center in Granite City, where he was pronounced dead.

Lovett had been arrested by Venice police the day before for driving under the influence and a weapons charge, Nonn said. When Lovett was arrested, a female passenger in his vehicle was taken to the hospital for symptoms of an overdose.

Nonn said an autopsy by his office failed to reveal a cause of death for Lovett but no evidence of trauma or foul play was found. He said alcohol and drug testing has been ordered. Lovett's death was being investigated by the Illinois State Police at the request of the Venice Police Department, Nonn said.

Haynes was charged May 24 and her bail set at $20,000. Court records indicate she has been freed from jail on her own recognizance. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The police chief did not return a phone call seeking comment, and no one else from the city of Venice was available to say if Haynes still works as a dispatcher there. She has no attorney on file yet in court records.

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