Two days after R&B singer Sean Levert died in police custody at the Cuyahoga County Jail in Cleveland, his family has asked the FBI to investigate the 39-year-old's death. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, cousin Michael Gibson said Tuesday (April 1) that the family is wondering if the reported "bizarre behavior" exhibited by Levert shortly before he died could have been a result of withdrawal from an anxiety medication he had been taking.
Levert, who was jailed March 24 after being found guilty of owing two women almost $90,000 in child support, was reportedly shouting unintelligibly and pounding on his cell door Sunday night, prompting guards to place him in a restraint chair with his wrists strapped down and his feet shackled to the floor.
"We wanted to prevent him from injuring himself," Warden Kevin McDonough told the paper.
Though a videotape of Levert strapped to the chair exists, it will not be released until after an investigation has been completed. "He was calm in the chair and then began to have shallow breathing. We called in our medical team and got him to the hospital," McDonough said, stressing that there was no physical altercation between Levert and the officers or other inmatesin the week that he was in the jail. Levert died later that night at Lutheran Hospital. Gibson said his cousin had never had the kind of "crazy outburst" guards described. He added that Levert paid child support, "just not through proper channels."
Levert, who the paper said had battled a drug habit, had been at the county jail awaiting transport to state prison to begin serving a 22-month sentence on the child-support charges.
The Plain Dealer also reported that it could be up to six weeks before toxicology tests on Levert are completed. Levert had told authorities that he was a chronic marijuana smoker and had high blood pressure but did not take medication to treat it.
It was the second tragedy in the family in as many years, following the November 2006 death of Sean's Grammy-winning older brother, Gerald Levert, who died from an accidental mix of prescription and over-the-counter medications at age 40. The brothers' father, Eddie Levert, 65, of the O'Jays, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member.
Sean Levert had revived the band Levert last year along with group co-founder Marc Gordon as a way to honor the memory of Gerald.