Bangor jail inmate found hanging in cell dies at hospital

Posted Dec. 05, 2011, at 3:37 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 05, 2011, at 4:06 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Penobscot County Jail inmate who was found hanging in his cell on Friday after being sentenced to 4½ years in prison for drug trafficking has died in a Bangor hospital.

Brent T. Fournier, 30, of Bangor and formerly Bar Harbor attempted suicide around 4:30 p.m. Friday and died at Eastern Maine Medical Center about 2:30 a.m. Monday, according to Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross.

“It’s horrible for the family and everyone else involved,” he said Monday afternoon. “I was with the family at the hospital. Our sympathy goes out to them.”

Fournier, who was indicted by the Hancock County grand jury in December 2010 for aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs, eluding police, driving to endanger and violating conditions of release, was sentenced on Friday.

“It was a Hancock County Superior Court case but he came up here” for his sentencing, Ross said.

Fournier was sentenced to 4½ years in prison for Class A drug trafficking and one year for eluding police, with the sentences to run concurrently. The other charges were dismissed, officials said.

Fournier also was picked up by a Bangor police officer last week for violating his bail conditions, Ross said.

“He was given emergency medical care at the jail and at Eastern Maine Medical Center, where he passed away,” Ross said. “He was discovered by a correction officer doing regular inmate population checks.”

Jail corrections officers — who have cut-down tools on their belts and access to CPR masks, defibrillators and oxygen — Bangor Fire Department paramedics and EMMC doctors and nurses did all they could for Fournier, but “they could not reverse what happened,” Ross said.

Fournier was being held in the jail’s general population awaiting a transfer Monday to the state’s prison system, the sheriff said.

There have been five suicide deaths at the jail since Ross took the helm in 2002, including one on the day he became sheriff. During that time period, “over 60 very serious suicide attempts have happened in the county jail,” Ross said.

One person who attempted suicide still has medical problems as a result and “we had one who died from detoxification,” he said.

Over the past decade the jail has added medical personnel to address mental health problems among inmates, has increased crisis intervention training and added medical equipment on each floor, the sheriff said.

“We do over 1,500 suicide risk assessments every year,” Ross said. “We’ve never lost anyone on suicide watch. When the tragedy comes is when they are not telling anybody and when they do it without warning.”

With every suicide, “there is a lot of victims left behind who feel guilt and sadness,” the sheriff added.

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