SAVANNAH, Ga. – Five members of the Savannah Police Department have been fired. Their terminations are connected to the April custodial death of William Harvey, according to family attorneys.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said that Harvey died by suicide after hanging himself in an interrogation room at the Savannah Police Department, WSAV reported.
According to the GBI investigation, officers stepped out of the interview room. When they returned they found Harvey unconscious. Life-saving measures were attempted by police personnel, but Harvey did not survive. It was unclear how long Harvey was unsupervised.
Family attorney Francys Johnson met with Savannah’s mayor and police chief on Monday. Following the meeting, the lawyer announced that five members of the Savannah Police Department were terminated, and a sixth officer was suspended.
According to Johnson, the detective and supervisor involved in Harvey’s interrogation were fired, and the officers involved in securing the room have been either been terminated or disciplined, WSAV reported.
Family members did not believe Harvey was suicidal. They also said the police department was not forthcoming with information.
“Today, as the city of Savannah tries to right this wrong, we acknowledge that they’ve done an important thing by first acknowledging their mistakes and doing something about it,” Johnson said. “If they continue to do this, this family will sooner rather than later have the justice that they deserve.”
William Harvey (Photo provided to WSAV)
Part of the officers undoing apparently involved offensive text messages.
In May, when the officers were placed on administrative leave, WSAV reported the group sent a text message named “Eastside Night Shift.” The content included one officer sharing a GIF of what appears to be a black man hanging himself.
The officer reportedly asked if it was too early to send the image to one of the officers who apparently found Harvey unresponsive in the police interrogation room.
According to WSAV, the mother of the officer who found Harvey filed a formal complaint with SPD about the group message.