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Timeline: Prince George's Jail Murder Probe

POSTED: 11:36 AM ET, 09/23/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Prince George's County, Md., officials announced yesterday that two corrections officers had been placed on leave in connection with the strangling death of Ronnie L. White, a 19-year-old inmate who was found dead in his jail cell in June, less than two days after being implicated in the murder of a county police officer.


White's death has sparked outrage among community leaders in Prince George's, who have called for the State's Attorney to recognize the death as a homicide. A recap of events in the case:

June 27: Prince George's County Cpl. Richard S. Findley is run down at about noon in a parking lot by two men in a stolen Chevrolet Silverado.

He had been trying to box in the suspects when the driver rammed Findley's cruiser. Findley got out of his cruiser and the driver, later identified as 19-year-old Ronnie L. White, hits him.

Findley, 39, is dragged a short distance under the pickup and suffers massive head trauma. He dies later at Laurel Regional Hospital.

He is the first Prince George's police officer to die in the line of duty since 2005, when his friend, Cpl. Steven Gaughan, was killed in a shootout.

June 28: White is charged with first-degree murder in connection with Findley's slaying. He is booked into the Prince George's County jail at about 12:45 p.m.

June 29: White is found unresponsive at about 10:30 a.m. in his maximum-security, single-person cell. He is taken to the county hospital, where he is pronounced dead about an hour later. (See chronology of White's final hours.)

June 30: Preliminary autopsy findings conclude that White was strangled. County officials say he was separated from other inmates and that only seven guards and an undisclosed number of supervisors had access to the area where he was held. (That figure is later increased.)

Charging documents filed against White accuse the teen of "intentionally" accelerating the stolen pickup toward Findley to hit him. Court records also show that White was charged with first-degree assault and armed robbery in 2006, in a case that was later dropped. He later pleaded guilty to drug and gun possession.

The FBI begins a civil rights probe and the Maryland State Police takes over the investigation into White's death.

July 1: It is revealed that several Prince George's County correctional officers have refused to be interviewed in connection with White's death.

July 2: About 3,000 people attend Findley's funeral in Beltsville, with hundreds of people waiting, some for more than two hours, to view his coffin.

July 4: Members of the People's Coalition for Police Accountability, church groups and other civil rights organizations rally outside of the Prince George's County jail, protesting what White's death.

July 8: Russell Hardesty, one of the three guards who might have been in the best spot to see what happened to White, speaks for more than two hours to investigators. It is unclear whether the two other guards, Anthony C. McIntosh and Ramon Davis, have spoken about the incident but McIntosh tells The Post in a brief interview that he had "nothing to do" with what happened. Davis did not respond to requests for comment.

July 10: A Laurel minister tells hundreds of White's mourners that they all bore some responsibility for his death. Separate viewings are held for the public and family. Dozens wear T-shirts adorned with pictures and messages such as "In Memory of Ronnie L. White" and "R.I.P. Ronnie White," including the white-gloved pallbearers.

July 11: County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) announces that the independent American Correctional Association, a nonprofit group that administers an accreditation program for jails, will begin a week-long review of the troubled Prince County institution.

July 16: Clothilda Harvey, an attorney for Prince George's County correctional officers, says the jail's guards did not kill White, blaming county officials for rushing to label his death a homicide. Harvey predicts White's death will be ruled a suicide or inconclusive.

July 18: It is revealed that investigators have found that the unit where White died is "less restrictive than initially thought" and are grappling with the theory that White might have committed suicide. But five medical examiners from across the country interviewed by The Post say it would have been difficult for White to have broken the bone in his neck by hanging himself.

July 30: Prince George's County Police Chief Melvin C. High announces his retirement, effective in August.

Aug. 12: June White Dillard, the head of the Prince George's County chapter of the NAACP, criticizes what she calls a lack of progress in investigating White's death. It has been six weeks since the last significant public update on the case.

Sept. 18: An autopsy report is delivered to investigators saying that White was strangled, possibly with a sheet, a towel or the "crux of the elbow."

Yesterday: County spokesman John Erzen says two corrections officers have been "placed on non-duty status because we received information that they were the focus of the investigation." Erzen declines to name the officers.

By Derek Kravitz |  September 23, 2008; 11:36 AM ET D.C. Region
Previous: Financial Crisis, Sen. Stevens Trial, Iraqi: Aid Wasted | Next: N.C. Reporting Legend Stith Retires After 37 Years

Comments

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Why is there so much support for a cop killer? I guess the life of a thug is more important then a public servant who risks his life everyday for the public. Guess we know where the NAACP places their importance.

Posted by: nookly23 | September 23, 2008 1:32 PM

The published information states he was CHARGED not CONVICTED nookly23! The support is the fact that you are innocent until proven guilty. Or have you not read the constitution? This is simply a sign of the times when a person can be killed while in custody by those who are supposed to uphold the law. When authority figures take it upon themselves to punish those they feel are guilty we are in deep trouble.

Posted by: getaclue42 | September 25, 2008 4:59 PM

And lets not start talking about the NAACP shall we. You need to get informed nookly23 especially before you decide to provide your personal thoughts out where the world can see.

Posted by: getaclue | September 25, 2008 5:00 PM

I think its outrageous that they keep referring to this thug as accused or alleged cop killer. The crime can't be any clearer. What are they suggesting that he was framed? It was broad daylight with witnesses. He rammed the car straight into the officer. Sure, maybe he deserved his day in court, but what about the rights of the cop he ran down. Two wrongs don't make a right, but Ronnie White died much more mercifully than Richard Findley. RIP Cpl. Findley.

Posted by: lil dog | September 26, 2008 2:50 PM

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