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Attorneys: ‘Suicides’ At Police Station Lockup Are Suspicious

Develt Bradford, 52, is charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery for killing a security guard during a robbery at the Aldi in the 9000 block of South Halsted Street on Nov. 10, 2011. (Credit: Chicago Police Department)

Develt Bradford, 52, is charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery for killing a security guard during a robbery at the Aldi in the 9000 block of South Halsted Street on Nov. 10, 2011. (Credit: Chicago Police Department)

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Updated 12/28/11 – 5:52 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — The deaths of two police detainees have been ruled suicides, but several local attorneys and activists are calling them suspicious and saying they invoke the memory of disgraced police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports, the mother of Develt Bradford was emotional as she explained why she reached out to U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) after her son died in the Calumet District lockup, 727 E. 111th St. last month.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports

“I just want to know what really what happened. My family wants to know what’s really happened,” she said.

Bradford’s family has filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department, alleging police failed to protect his safety.

Bradford, 52, was one of two suspects in the Nov. 10 robbery and shooting at the Aldi store at 9001 S. Halsted St. The shooting killed security guard Reginald Lanier, 54, and injured a 67-year-old woman.

Jail staff said Bradford committed suicide by hanging himself with his pajamas.

A few days later, Melvin C. Woods Jr., 62, who had been arrested on charges of aggravated assault, was also found hanged in his cell at the same police lockup.

Now, attorneys Victor Henderson and Sam Adam Jr. are raising questions about those suicides.

“Why here in Chicago? Why on the South Side? Why at Area 2? Why both at 1:30 in the morning? Why both by hanging?” Henderson said.

Henderson and Adam also have written a letter to U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, asking for a federal investigation of the two deaths.

“What we want to do is get to the truth. We want to get to what happened in that area? Who did what and what happened?” Adam said.

Henderson said they have been told by sources that surveillance cameras in the lockup were not working at the times of the two deaths.

“Ask all of those officers to testify – under oath, under penalty of perjury – of what transpired and the truth should come out,” Henderson said.

In late November, police Supt. Garry McCarthy acknowledged there were “issues” with the cameras inside the lockup. Independent Police Review Authority Deputy Chief Carlos Weeden said in November that the camera captured no video, and his agency is investigating.