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Detainee at Cook County Jail dies of COVID-19

Jeffery Pendleton was pronounced dead Sunday at Stroger Hospital. So far, 230 detainees have tested positive for the virus.

A detainee at Cook County Jail is charged with beating a correctional officer on April 13, 2020.
A detainee at the Cook County Jail died from COVID-19 April 5, 2020.
Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times file photo

A detainee at Cook County Jail has died of COVID-19, the sheriff’s office announced Monday, marking the first death of a detainee at the jail from the coronavirus.

Jeffery Pendleton, 59, was pronounced dead Sunday at Stroger Hospital, where he had been hospitalized since March 30 after testing positive for the virus, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office and medical examiner’s office.

A ruling on the manner and cause of his death was pending an autopsy, but preliminary reports indicate he died of complications from the virus, the sheriff’s office said.

The detainee was jailed on July 24, 2018, on charges that included being an armed habitual criminal, armed violence and other drug and gun charges, the sheriff’s office said. He was denied a motion to reduce his bail at a bond review hearing on March 26.

“We asked for an expedited bond review on this client and to be released from jail before trial. We lost that fight,” Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli said in a tweet. “He was and always will be presumed innocent. He died awaiting for his day in court. He should have been sent home.”

The detainee had 15 previous convictions and was required to register as a sex offender following a 1997 conviction for aggravated criminal sexual assault for which he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, the sheriff’s office said.

As of Monday evening, 230 detainees at the jail have tested positive for COVID-19, the sheriff’s office said. Fourteen are being treated at hospitals and 33 are being moved to a recovery facility. Additionally, 92 staff members have tested positive.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of detainees against Sheriff Tom Dart seeking to remove more detainees from Cook County Jail amid the outbreak of the coronavirus inside the jail.