Inmate death at federal jail in Los Angeles ruled a homicide

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The death of an inmate at a federal jail in Los Angeles this past week has been ruled a homicide, resulting from stab wounds and strangulation, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

The inmate, Steve Bencom, was found unresponsive at the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal jail in Los Angeles, about 8:30 a.m. local time on Monday, the Bureau of Prisons said. Prison staff members attempted life-saving measures and called for emergency medical crews, but Becom was pronounced dead at the jail, officials said.

The agency didn’t provide any information about the circumstances surrounding his death when it sent a news advisory about the in-custody death. Officials did say said Bencom’s death was unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic and that the FBI was notified, a standard procedure for some in-custody deaths.

Bencom’s death has since been ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles County coroner, caused by the “combined effects of stab wounds and ligature strangulation,” the records show.

The Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the coroner’s findings.

Bencom was serving a 10-year sentence for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and controlled substances.

The death is the latest serious security issue for the bureau, which has been plagued by chronic violence, serious misconduct and persistent staffing shortages. The death again raises questions about whether officials at the agency can adequately protect the safety of the more than 160,000 federal inmates across the U.S.

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