Why has there been no arrest in the death of an inmate after an incident at the Scioto County Jail in Portsmouth, Ohio? Nearly two weeks ago, an autopsy report confirmed that Kevin Bailey died of blunt force trauma and ruled the manner of death as ‘homicide.’ It’s not as if, the prosecutor has to hunt for suspects. There are plenty of witnesses who said they saw exactly what happened to the 56-year-old homeless man after he was arrested back on May 24.
Why hasn’t there been justice for Kevin? And more troubling in these days of protests about police brutality, why doesn’t anyone seem to care?
Who Was Kevin Bailey?
Kevin Bailey was a 57-year-old Portsmouth man. Bailey battled drug addiction for decades. His sister said he was homeless, he slept in tents and abandoned buildings. She admits he had a big mouth sometimes and was pretty good at making folks angry.
Bailey’s big mouth led to his arrest in the wee hours of May 24. He yelled at a neighbor and waved a pipe around. According to the police report, he didn’t get physical. There was still enough evidence to arrest for aggravated menacing for threatening someone.
Bailey was walked into the Scioto County Jail. He would never walk out. Three days later, Bailey’s sister Karen Skaggs got the call that her brother was on life support at a Columbus hospital.
Jail officials originally said Bailey was injured in a scuffle with guards. They claimed he hit his head on a door. He was hospitalized with skull fractures, broken ribs, and other injuries. Doctors said he suffered irreparable brain damage. His sister made the painful decision to remove life support and Bailey died on June 1.
Witnesses to the event told a very different story than the one originally released by the jail. They said Bailey got mouthy with jail personnel who drove him into the floor and kicked him. That’s when the State of Ohio took over the investigation.
Their investigation was a long one. Two months ago, Sheriff Marty Donini met with Karen Skaggs’ representative. She said he confirmed her brother had been assaulted. A deputy was fired over the incident.
However, the final medical examiner’s report was not issued by the state until the beginning of October. At the time, Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman said he could not move forward with charging anyone until there was an official cause of death. Now that Bailey’s death has been ruled a homicide, why hasn’t someone been arrested?
The Clock Starts Ticking
SCDN reached out to Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman. While the prosecutor declined to comment specifically on the Bailey case, he did offer an explanation as to why it’s taking so long.
“I can tell you that there is not always an arrest made right away on serious investigations. Once an arrest is made, there is a time clock for a speedy trial. If you have a complex case to put together, that can be problematic. In those cases, the matter proceeds to the grand jury, and then an indictment warrant or summons is issued.”
Bailey’s sister is frustrated by the wait. “I hope they make a move before long. This has been really hard on me. I have nightmares all the time. And it’s just not fair the punk who did this is still walking around free. I won’t call him a man because he’s not a man he is a coward. Doing that to a person in handcuffs that couldn’t defend himself, that’s a coward.”
Does Anyone Care About Kevin?
In these days of outrage about police brutality, why doesn’t anyone seem to care about Kevin Bailey’s death? The state issued the autopsy finding almost two weeks ago. Where are the TV cameras? Where are the headlines? His poor sister only managed to raise a couple of hundred dollars to pay for his funeral. Even that pitiful amount of money had to be turned over to the city in order to get her brother’s ashes back.
Kevin’s remains are sitting in a plastic box at his sister’s house. Karen is currently battling cancer and worried she won’t make it long enough to see justice for her brother.