The recent death of a federal inmate held at a south Florida lockup after allegedly firing an AK-47 at park rangers and Miami-Dade police officers in Everglades National Park earlier this year is the subject of an investigation.
The death of 37-year-old Drew Curtis Sikes, who was being held at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) near downtown Miami, is considered “suspicious,” the Miami Herald reported, and is being investigated by the Bureau of Prisons, Department of Justice Office of Inspector General and other agencies.
Sikes died on June 16, according to the Bureau of Prisons’ online records, but neither prison officials nor federal prosecutors have publicly provided details regarding the circumstances of his death.
Two unidentified sources told the Miami Herald that Sikes was likely high on drugs when he raised his fists to a corrections officer who ordered him back into his cell on the seventh floor of the FDC, which houses more than 1,000 inmates at a time. A nurse attempted to intervene but Sikes again refused to go back to his cell and the corrections officer pepper-sprayed him.
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Sikes then ran wildly toward the stairwell and smashed into a concrete wall, according to those sources familiar with the incident. He was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he died.
Eric Speirs, a union representative for the facility’s guards, said it appears the correctional officer was not at fault and the inmate’s injury was self-inflicted. He said a video surveillance camera captured the incident and drugs smuggled into the facility were a problem and may have contributed to the situation.
“It is stunning to me that the family of Drew Sikes has not been called but the union representative feels it is appropriate to make a statement about the way he died,” Brad Sohn, an attorney representing Sikes’ family, told the Herald. “If that’s the case, then show us the video.”
His family expected the investigation into Sikes’ death to be “transparent,” and “if there is any wrongdoing that the wrongdoers be held accountable,” Sohn added.
Sikes was taken into custody March 28. A federal complaint said he urged park rangers and police officers to kill him during tense negotiations.
“I want you guys to kill me,” Sikes, carrying an AK-47, shouted at officers before he was arrested.
A judge found him to be a danger to the community and ordered him detained until his trial.
He faced a minimum prison sentence of 10 years and possibly up to 20 years if convicted.
Earlier in March, Sikes was arrested on a felony domestic violence charge of aggravated assault with a firearm on his wife, according to court records. A Miami-Dade judge released him but ordered him to stay away from his wife.
But Sikes held her hostage for four days at Everglades National Park. She was finally able to get away on March 28 and called park rangers for help. They, along with Miami-Dade police officers, began searching for Sikes, and used a loudspeaker to communicate with him in a wooded area.
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At one point they heard gunfire and felt rounds traveling over their heads, according to the complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Despite officers’ continued commands that Sikes cease fire and emerge from the woods, he continued shooting, the affidavit says. Law enforcement negotiated for over an hour with Sikes, who eventually emerged from the woods and surrendered.
Fox News has reached out to both the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida regarding Sikes’ death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.