Blue Wall Of Silence Develops In Suspect's Death

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Nineteen-year-old Ronnie White was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the hit-and-run death of a cop. A few days later, White was found murdered in his cell. The only people with access to that cell were corrections officers and prison officials, and several of them have refused to cooperate with investigators.

Aaron Davis, The Washington Post's lead reporter covering the story, talks about the case and why a "blue wall of silence" has developed.

Suspect In Officer's Death Was Strangled In Cell

Ronnie White

Maryland authorities say the death of Ronnie White, 19, found slumped in his prison cell, was a homicide. White died a day after his arrest in the death of a Prince George's County police officer. AP/Prince George's County Department of Corrections hide caption

itoggle caption AP/Prince George's County Department of Corrections

Friday, June 27

  • Noon: Police learn that Prince George's County police officer Cpl. Richard S. Findley is struck by a truck
  • Shortly after noon: Police track down and capture Ronnie L. White in an apartment building a few blocks from the accident scene

Saturday, June 28

  • Midnight: White is admitted to the county's correctional center, where he gets a medical assessment and a clean bill of physical and mental health

Sunday, June 29

  • 10:15 a.m.: White is last seen alive in his maximum security cell
  • 10:30 a.m.: White is found dead in his cell with no apparent trauma

Monday, June 30

  • The Maryland medical examiner rules the death a strangulation

The FBI and Maryland State Police are investigating the death of a 19-year-old man accused of running down and killing a Prince George's County police officer. He died while in police custody Sunday, a little more than a day after he was charged with the killing.

The Maryland medical examiner ruled Monday that the inmate, Ronnie White, died from strangulation. Two small bones in his neck were broken. The FBI, which investigates prison deaths as a matter of course, said it is focused on possible civil rights violations.

White had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cpl. Richard S. Findley. Findley had been leading an investigation into a car theft ring when he pulled over a motorist in rural Maryland. As he was climbing out of his police cruiser, he was struck by a pickup. Police said they believed the truck was stolen and that White was the man at the wheel.

They arrested White and three other men hours later at a nearby apartment complex where the pickup was parked. Findley had been rushed to a nearby hospital. He died a short time later from complications related to massive head trauma.

White was taken to the county's Correctional Center in Upper Marlboro and placed in a maximum security cell. Officials say he had passed a medical and psychological evaluation before he entered the facility early Saturday, and guards were checking on him every half-hour. At 10:15 a.m. Sunday, he was seen sitting on his bunk and seemed fine, guards said. Fifteen minutes later, he was dead.

Normally, White would have been moved to a jail outside Prince George's County because his alleged crime involved county law enforcement officers. But because White was arrested late on a weekend night, the county didn't follow that protocol. Seven guards had access to White, as did numerous supervisors. Officials are still trying to determine whether anyone outside the prison had access to White.

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