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BCI looks into death of inmate involved in police standoff

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ)--Continuing coverage of a story brought to you on Monday night.

A man in a nearly five hour standoff with police on Monday is dead.

Police say 36-year-old Samuel Nelson ran after they tried to take him into custody just before noon on Monday.

He had 5 outstanding warrants.

The man hid in an apartment building for almost five hours.

Police found him in the attic --and took him to the jail.

"Mr. Nelson was medically cleared to come into the facility. He was here for approximately 80 minutes. At which time we then called for the ambulance to have him brought to the hospital,” said Grand Forks County Jail Administrator, Bret Burkholder.

The jail administrator says he does not believe there were any jail issues that led to Nelson’s death, but WDAZ News has learned the Bureau of Criminal Investigation is also looking into Nelson’s death.

This marks the second death at the jail within the last year and a half.

WDAZ's Kenneth Chase spoke directly with Nelson's family.

They're broken up. I spoke with Nelson's sister and cousin today as they fought back tears.

They say there are a lot of questions they have about his death -- and how the jail is run.

Noncompliant. That's what the North Dakota Department of Corrections deemed the Grand Forks County Jail about a year ago.

The DOCR put the jail on an 18-month probation plan --including unannounced inspections.

"We'd also send up one or two maybe of our inspectors maybe unannounced to ensure the facility is following their policies and procedures which are approved by the DOCR,” said Warden of Transitional Facilities, James Sayler.

45-year-old inmate Nathan Dogskin died in April of 2017 after the Grand Forks County Correctional Center failed to put him in a padded cell.

They also did not transport him to Altru Hospital after being advised to do so by a nurse.

That death investigation found the jail was not compliant with nine state-mandated rules.

The state also found at least four policies that needed to be updated.

This winter -- a local family spoke out against the jail's practices after a man was put in a cell with his accused attackers.

He was allegedly beaten so badly his eye dislodged from the socket.

But the DOCR says inspections continue at the jail.

"We just in June here inspected the Grand Forks County jail and found them in compliance with the correctional facility standards,” said Sayler.

With Nelson's family reeling from his death -- they're wondering what happened and tell WDAZ News more should have been done to help him.

WDAZ’s Kenneth Chase also reached out to county commissioners about Nelson's death.

They plan to discuss what happened at their next meeting.

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