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Family of Beckley man who died in jail custody seeks answers on cause of death


The family of a Beckley man who died in Southern Regional Jail (SRJ) custody in early March...
The family of a Beckley man who died in Southern Regional Jail (SRJ) custody in early March will be laying their loved one to rest on Saturday.(wvva)
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 2:47 PM EDT
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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) - The family of a Beckley man who died in Southern Regional Jail (SRJ) custody on March 1, will be laying their loved one to rest on Saturday.

Quantez Burks, 37, died at the jail a day after his arrest on charges of Wanton Endangerment and Obstruction at his home in Beckley. While a spokesperson for the regional jail system said Burks died after being moved into a segregated section of the jail for being combative, his family said the preliminary findings of a second autopsy have raised new questions.

According to the complaint, Beckley Police were called to Burks’ home on February 28, by a neighbor who said he was Burks’ tenant. He claimed Burks had fired a gun in the home after a fight over the tenant’s cats.

But it is what happened after Burks was taken to SRJ that remains shrouded in mystery. After speaking to Burks around 9 a.m. the morning after his arrest, his fiance, Latasha Williams, said she called magistrate court that afternoon to work on a bond.

“Between 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., I said I’d like to get Quantez Burks’ bond. They told me we hate to tell you but he passed last night around 9 p.m. I threw my phone down and cried and was with his mom. But then I stopped and remembered I’d talked to him at 9 a.m. this morning. And they called back and said, oh our mistake, it happened between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.”

In a release by Lawrence Messina, a spokesperson for regional jail system, he said Burks had been combative both days he was in custody and had just been taken to a segregated section of the facility when he collapsed and died.

After his body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office for further inquiry, his family said they paid for a second autopsy to be done in Pittsburgh, PA. While the official results of that inquiry are not complete, they said the preliminary findings showed blunt force trauma, two broken wrists, among other injuries.

“If it’s the last thing I do in my lifetime, they will be held responsible. Don’t ever get comfortable. Don’t ever think this will go away. You will be held accountable for what happened to my child,” said Burks’ mother, Kimberly Burks.

Williams said her fiance had high blood pressure, but no other pre-existing conditions. She said no one from the jail or state has called her to explain how a seemingly healthy man walked into the jail one day and left in a body bag the next.

“I go to bed every night and cry. I want him to come home. I cry for justice because that’s going to happen. One way or another, justice will be served,” said Williams.

Meanwhile, the family wanted to let the public know they will be having a memorial service for Burks this Saturday at Heart of God Ministries on South Kanawha Street starting at 11 a.m.

They said they are still working to raise funds to cover Burks’ expenses at Fundraiser by Diane Rector-Washington : Burial Expenses & Justice - Quan (gofundme.com)

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