Sheriff’s office investigating deaths of 2 county jail inmates

The deaths of two men in the Montgomery County Jail are under investigation by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

Steven D. Blackshear, 54, of Dayton died Sunday, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. A preliminary cause of death was unavailable, the coroner’s office said.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that Blackshear, was booked into the jail Jan. 26 and awaiting trial for misdemeanor theft.

The death is the second one to occur at the jail in a little more than two weeks.

Aaron Dixon, 52, who was being held on drug charges since Jan. 9, died on Jan. 13. Dixon, who reported that he had fallen and injured himself, was treated by jail staff and taken to a local hospital, a sheriff’s office spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

He was returned to the jail after being treated and discharged. When correctional staff attempted to take Dixon to a follow-up with the jail’s medical staff the same day, they found him unresponsive.

“Correctional and jail medical staff immediately provided medical care including CPR and the use of Automated External Defibrillator until Dayton Fire arrived,” the spokesperson said.

Dixon was taken back to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Indications of foul play were not apparent, but the incident is being investigated by detectives from the sheriff’s office Special Investigations and Inspectional Services units, the spokesperson confirmed. A preliminary cause of death was unavailable Thursday, according to the coroner’s office.

Investigations into both Dixon’s and Blackshear’s causes of death are ongoing, and there are no updates to provide at this time, the spokesperson said Thursday.

All inmates receive a routine medical assessment after they are booked in the jail and are provided any needed care, according to the sheriff’s spokesperson.

County officials and the Montgomery County Jail Coalition, a community group that consists of activists and concerned citizens that seeks to reduce the population in the jail, have previously agreed that there are problems with the current facility in the 300 block of West Second Street, including issues with safety and crowding.

“Both these individuals were being held pre-trial, which is to say they’d not been convicted of the charges for which they were being held,” said Joel Pruce, a University of Dayton political science professor and a coordinator with the coalition. “No matter what the charge was, ... no matter what their background is, nobody deserves to die in a county jail while they’re awaiting trial.”

Staff writers Jen Balduf and Kristen Spicker contributed to this report.

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