Roosevelt Police Chief Rick Harrison says he had no idea when his officers made their latest arrest of Gary Donald Mecham that, this time, the man was suicidal.
“We’ve known him for a long time. He’s been in and out of the system for years. But there was no indication of this in his behavior [when arrested],” Harrison said Tuesday, five days after the 56-year-old ex-con was found dead in his holding cell at the Duchesne County Jail.
Jail personnel also reportedly said that Mecham had not made any suicidal comments during routine questioning while being booked on suspicion of domestic violence in the presence of a child, assault and intoxication.
Citing the ongoing nature of the investigation, neither Harrison nor the Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office would detail specifically how Mecham met his end, other than to term it as “an apparent suicide.”
In a statement issued Tuesday by the Duchesne County Attorney’s Office, which is overseeing the investigation, they said little more than to confirm that Mecham was arrested and booked late the night of Feb. 20 and that at 12:17 a.m. Feb. 21, the Roosevelt man was found unconscious in the holding cell.
“Staff immediately began [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] and summoned EMTs [emergency medical technicians] who arrived at 12:28 a.m. [Mecham] was transported to the Uintah Basin Medical Center by ambulance,” the statement read.
Mecham was pronounced dead a short time later. An autopsy has been ordered.
Court records show a long criminal history for the man, ranging from drug possession and drunken driving to third-degree felony theft — the latter for which he was on probation at the time of his latest arrest.