Family of dead Portsmouth inmate looking for answers, taking legal action

Posted at 11:40 PM, Apr 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-16 23:40:48-04

Portsmouth, Va. -  It has been four days since Derrick Lewis died while in Portsmouth Police custody, but his family still doesn't know how or when he died.

"I don't want to sit here and continue to wonder and pray what happened to my brother. I need the answers. I want to know what happened to my older brother," said Trevron Sanford, Lewis' brother.

According to Portsmouth Police, Lewis was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant shortly after midnight on Monday, April 13. Police say after 5 a.m., Lewis had a medical emergency and died while on the way to the hospital. His family says police's story doesn't add up, so they are seeking legal advice.

"We need to consider taking legal action because of the lack of answers and the holes in the police’s story," explained Sanford. "I don’t believe it. I have said it myself, if we need to take it to a national level we can and we will."

Family members say they have not even seen Lewis' body yet, making funeral arrangements difficult.

"If they [police] had told us this is what happened, how it happened, we’re sorry we would have been OK. We could have had everything set up for the funeral, we wouldn’t have to sit there and when they say what was the cause of death – we don’t know yet. When did he die? – we don’t know. All that we know is that we have to wait for the autopsy to come back before we can do any of that."

Portsmouth Police say that they are still waiting on the cause of death from the medical examiner, but that it can take weeks to determine once all testing is done.