LAURINBURG — The sister of a Laurinburg native who died last weekend in an Indiana jail says she and her family deserve to know what happened during her brother’s last days.
Susan Hunt says 48-year-old Johnnie Locklear was pronounced dead early Saturday morning after being rushed from the jail in Scott County, Indiana, to the Scott County Hospital while showing signs of cardiac distress.
According to area news reports, an autopsy was inconclusive concerning the cause of death, and the Indiana State Police are investigating. The Scott County Sheriff’s Office did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.
Hunt alleges her brother’s death followed a violent altercation he had with authorities shortly after her family arrived at the county jail, during which she says he was pepper-sprayed and shocked with a stun gun.
“We identified him at the jail … and his heart stopped 15 minutes later,” she said. “Something is just not right.”
Hunt said authorities contacted her days after Locklear was arrested, saying they thought Locklear had had “a mental break,” and asked her to confirm his identity. Scott County Sheriff Don McClain told WAVE 3 news that Locklear was combative and was kept in a padded cell.
While her brother appeared lucid during her visit to the jail, Hunt said many emotions may have been brewing under his calm exterior. For three weeks before his death, he had warned her that someone was intent on taking his life, she said — and at the jail, he told the family if they let him out of their sight, he would soon be dead.
“We don’t know what was going on, we just know something was, and he was frightened. He was trying to get away from something or someone,” she said.
According to Hunt, Locklear lived in Scotland County until about six years ago, when he moved to Florida, but he often visited family and friends at his Laurinburg home and traveled to a cabin in Indiana during hunting season.
“Johnnie liked experiences. All he needed was a duffel bag and a train ticket and he was off on a new adventure,” she said. “He liked meeting people and doing new things and learning about new cultures.”
According to jail records, Locklear was arrested June 11 on charges of resisting and fleeing an officer. Hunt said from what she understands, a bystander dialed 911 after seeing Locklear exhibiting strange behavior.
“He was alone when he was arrested,” she said. “I don’t know what was going on. They did drug tests and found marijuana in his system, but no other drugs. He has never had any problems before.”
Locklear does not appear to have a prior criminal record. One of Locklear’s neighbors who was interviewed by WAVE 3 said in the six years he had known Locklear, he had never seen him acting out of the ordinary.
“We around here at home, we deserve it to be out for everyone to hear what is going on,” Hunt said. “When is it OK to use deadly force? … Even if he had become mentally unstable, it was their job to protect him.”
Toxicology reports could take up to eight weeks to be completed.
Abbi Overfelt works for Civitas Media as editor of the Laurinburg Exchange. Reach her at 910-276-2311, ext. 12. Follow her on Twitter @aoinscotco.