SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - “Over the weekend, a man died while in the custody of the Savannah Police Department. The details as I know them are sketchy at best with a lot of unanswered questions,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson.
Mayor Van Johnson made that statement on Tuesday after the GBI began investigating the death of a man in police custody in Savannah.
Police say William Zachery Harvey was brought to police headquarters Saturday morning for questioning in-connection to an aggravated assault case.
While he was in the interview room, police say he injured himself with an object he brought in. The man later died from those injuries.
The SPD personnel involved have been placed on administrative leave in accordance with department policy.
Now, we’re hearing from the Harvey’s family.
The family says they are devastated by his death. They say they want Savannah to know what kind of a man he was and that they’re pleading for answers.
The family and their legal counsel came together at Savannah Police Headquarters Friday afternoon, almost a week after the GBI began their investigation into Harvey’s death. His family says he was a kind and loving man who enjoyed life, made people laugh and was loved deeply by his community and those close to him.
Harvey’s mother shared with us that he was her only son and her primary caregiver.
She, like the rest of the family, says she just wants answers about what happened to him.
“He was the next thing to me to God because he saw that I ate. He saw that I took my medicine. He did everything for me. He was my lifeline to this world. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it and that’s why I’m here because I want to know what happened to my child. I want to know. I need to know. Mothers, I am crying today, but it could be you tomorrow, the next day, any day,” said his mother Shirley Harvey Francis.
Several Savannah alderwomen came to share their condolences with the family. Alderwoman Post 1 - At Large Kesha Gibson-Carter says they expect a full and transparent investigation.
“We are responsible for assuring that every citizen that walks in this door, whether you are a victim, whether you are charge or whether you are being investigated. You should walk out and go home. You should walk out and go into custody at the jail. You should not leave this department and go to your grave,” said Gibson-Carter.
The family’s legal counsel says they haven’t received any additional information about this investigation and are deeply concerned about how Harvey lost his life while in police custody.
“What we know about an interrogation room is that it is supposed to be a place where in interrogation is going on which means that there is an officer there and there’s constant observation. So for anyone to have enough time to allegedly take their own life, is absolutely baffling and concerning for us,” said Mawuli Davis, Davis Bozeman Johnson Law Firm.
Davis and the family are asking for anyone with information about this investigation to contact them or police.