Inmate dies in jail 'fist fight', outside agency investigates

An inmate was killed in a "fist fight" at the Salt Lake County jail on Saturday morning, leading some to question the facility's safety. The Salt Lake County Sheriff said the jail is "as safe as we can make it." (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — Another inmate has died inside a county jail in Utah, after a series of deaths that caught the attention of lawmakers, and led to a new state law requiring all counties to report the number of inmates who die in their jails every year.

Daniel Lamont Davis passed away on Saturday, hours after a "fist fight" between inmates in a section of the Salt Lake County Jail.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said the investigation is being done by South Salt Lake police, so she would give only limited information.

Rivera said it was breakfast time when the fight happened, that a deputy saw it, and took action.

“Our staff reacted,“ she said. “This happened in 30 seconds. They gave CPR."

The sheriff would not reveal the name of the inmate who hit Davis, or the circumstances of the fight, saying that’s up to investigators to release.

Asked why it took four days to reveal the death had occurred, she said South Salt Lake police only now are prepared to present the case to the district attorney.

A woman who spoke to 2News outside the jail on Wednesday, said she worries about safety for a friend who is incarcerated.

“It’s still always kind of a constant, scary thought,“ she said. “Is he going to get hurt?“

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said her friend has been threatened by other inmates, and is currently being held in the Salt Lake County jail.

“This is my home away from home, unfortunately, but this is the last time I will be here,“ said Colt Lynch, who told 2News he’s been in and out of Utah jails for drug crimes but is now in rehab and must wear an ankle monitor to track his movements.

“You get in fights in jail,“ he said, mostly over issues of “respect,” adding the Salt Lake County jail is better than others.

“I usually don’t have any problems in this jail," he said.

The jail in Salt Lake County was on “lockdown" Wednesday for an unspecified reason.

“A jail is as safe as we can make it,“ Rivera said. “And that is our priority.“

In 2016, nearly two dozen inmates died in Utah jails, many of them by suicide.

Data from 2018 is not yet available.

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