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13 Pa. Department of Corrections employees suspended after death of inmate, formerly of West Philly

“Whatever the outcome of this case, we are going to be as transparent as possible," Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said.

Prison photo.
Prison photo.Read moreTracy King / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced Saturday that it had suspended 13 employees after the death of an inmate last week at a state prison in Schuylkill County.

Tyrone Briggs, 29, formerly of West Philadelphia, died Nov. 11 at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Mahanoy about 90 minutes after an altercation with another inmate.

Briggs, who was serving a 15-to-30-year sentence for raping an 11-year-old girl in a Philadelphia alley in 2006, became unresponsive while he was waiting to be processed into a restricted housing unit after the altercation. CPR was started, but he was pronounced dead soon after, officials said.

“Whatever the outcome of this case, we are going to be as transparent as possible, and the DOC will take whatever remedial measures deemed to be necessary,” Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said.

State officials said they would not release the names of the suspended employees, or provide details on why they were suspended. They include medical and security staff. The department said they would not be paid pending the outcome of “any criminal and administrative investigations.” State police are investigating.

“The Commonwealth is entrusted with the health and safety of all persons in their custody. Tyrone Briggs may have been an inmate, but he was still a human being with a family just like any of us and deserved their protection,” Hank Clarke, an attorney representing the Briggs family, wrote in an email to CNN.

Susan McNaughton, a spokesperson for the department, said the Schuylkill County coroner had not yet determined Briggs’ cause of death.