Woman is second person to die in Louisville Metro Corrections custody in less than a week

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A woman died Friday morning after being found unresponsive in a Louisville Metro Corrections housing unit, becoming the second person in the jail's custody to die this week, according to officials.

Metro Corrections Assistant Director Steve Durham said an officer found the 34-year-old unresponsive about 5 a.m. Friday.

She was identified as Rickitta Smith of Louisville, by the Jefferson County Coroner's Office, which said her cause of death is pending a final autopsy report.

"Officers immediately started lifesaving efforts and summoned on-site medical staff to assist," a news release from Metro Corrections said. The person was then taken to University of Louisville Hospital by Metro EMS, he said.

Hospital personnel told Metro Corrections about 5:30 a.m. that Smith had died, Durham said.

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Daniel Johnson, president of FOP Lodge 77, which represents Louisville's corrections workers, said he was told the "control room observed what appeared to be an inmate having a seizure and called for assistance."

"Officers arrived along with medical staff and found a female person who was in custody unresponsive," Johnson told The Courier Journal in an email. "They performed CPR, and utilized AED and narcan before EMS arrived.

"It's a heartbreaking situation for the staff who did everything they could in a traumatic incident and had to gather up the strength to finish out their shift and potentially work another shift afterwards," Johnson added. "... Our thoughts and prayers are also with the family, friends and loved ones of the person that died."

Smith was detained Wednesday night after staff at a Thorntons in the 1600 block of Dixie Highway had asked her to leave "multiple times," according to an arrest citation.

She allegedly refused to do so before resisting arrest and fighting a Louisville Metro Police officer who tried to stop her from running away, according to the citation, which notes Smith tripped on bushes while trying to get away.

After police detained Smith, they found a bag containing what was believed to be spice, a synthetic drug, and a small baggie containing a "white rocky/powder like substance inside of a cut up drinking straw," which officers believed to be crack, per the citation.

Smith was charged with several drug possession offenses, along with fleeing police, resisting arrest and criminal trespassing, according to court records.

She pleaded not guilty to the charges during a Thursday arraignment.

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Smith also had a pending Jefferson County case involving charges of drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest and obstructing an officer, per court records.

Metro Corrections Director Dwayne Clark has directed the jail's Professional Standards Unit to open an internal investigation into her death, which is standard procedure, Durham said.

On Monday, a 59-year-old man who was in Metro Corrections custody also died at the hospital after officials said they were found "unresponsive" in a housing unit.

This story has been updated.

Reach Billy Kobin at bkobin@courierjournal.com.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Rickitta Smith dies in Louisville Metro Corrections custody

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