Homemade alcohol may have killed inmate at DeKalb County Jail

DEKALB (STMW) - A 28-year-old inmate died early Monday after he became ill in his cell after drinking homemade alcohol at the DeKalb County Jail.

Deputies responded to banging on cell bars by other inmates and found Brandon Washington unresponsive in his cell with labored and very shallow breath, according to a statement from the DeKalb County sheriff’s office.

Deputies performed CPR until an ambulance arrived to take him to Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb, where he was pronounced dead at 2:34 a.m., according to the sheriff’s office. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

Washington’s cell mate, 26-year-old Christopher Gerken, was also taken to Kishwaukee, but refused treatment. He was brought back to the jail, but after he vomited again, he was taken back to the hospital and admitted.

The two men had ingested homemade alcohol, according to the sheriff’s office. Drugs may also have been involved, but that will not be known for sure until tests come back.

Washington was sent to the jail from the state Department of Corrections on Nov. 3, 2015, according to the sheriff’s office. He was convicted of attempted first-degree murder in 2009. Gerken was being held on a murder charge by DeKalb police.

Illinois State Police, DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller, and the Department of Corrections are all investigating Washington’s death.