BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Delores Brown didn’t know why her son was in Alabama, let alone in jail.
On March 26, Brown was at her home in Newark, New Jersey when she got a call from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office about how her son, Sharik, whom she had not seen since he left home in 2019, was on a ventilator at UAB Hospital after he had tried to hang himself in his cell at the Jefferson County Jail. That happened March 7, three weeks before she got the call.
“I said, ‘Why did it take so long?” Brown said. “They said they were trying to find me.”
A couple of days later, Brown got on a Greyhound bus for Birmingham to see her son, arriving at the hospital a couple of days later on March 30. Hospital staff told her that he had been on a ventilator and had just been able to open his eyes. She sat by his bedside as she read the Bible to him. Within 45 minutes, Sharik had died. He was 24.
Weeks after his death, Delores Brown is still trying to figure out what led to her son’s death.
“I feel like something happened,” she said. “How did he do this?”
Sharik Brown had been at the Jefferson County Jail since Feb. 18. The day before, he had been arrested after allegedly threatening a manager at a Moe’s Southwest restaurant on Hwy. 280, all while having a stolen laptop, wallets, and money on him. He was subsequently charged with harassment, resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as several theft and burglary charges.
On his jail file, Sharik’s address was listed as being from Dothan. However, Delores Brown said that outside of having some family on her mother’s side in town, she doesn’t know why he was in Alabama. The last time the two had spoken was back in November, when he said he was in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
According to a report by Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Bill Yates, Sharik was being held in a private cell in the Jefferson County Jail to undergo a mental evaluation. At 1:17 p.m. on March 7, a deputy went to his cell to check on him after noticing the camera in his cell had been covered and that he was not answering the intercom system. Yates wrote that after finding Sharik hanging, deputies got him down and performed CPR on him. Sharik was then taken to UAB Hospital.
Delores Brown said that given how poor Sharik’s health was in the hospital, she has questions about how long it took before deputies could get to him.
“They said that if he made it, he would never be able to walk, talk, or eat again,” she said. “How long was it until you got to him?”
According to the coroner’s report, no “admission blood” remained at the time of Sharik’s death and no analysis was performed from the specimens available at the time of his autopsy due to the time between the hanging and his death.
“It is my opinion, based on the circumstances surrounding death and the examination findings, that Mr. Sharik Brown died from asphyxia by hanging,” Chief Coroner Gregory Davis wrote. “The manner of death is best classified as ‘suicide’ for public health certification.”
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office declined to answer any questions from CBS 42 on Brown, adding that they don’t publicize details on suicides in the jail. The only thing they would confirm was that Brown was in the Jefferson County Jail from Feb. 18 to March 7.
Delores Brown has her doubts about what she was told. For one, she never knew Sharik to be suicidal or to have any kind of mental issues, outside of anxiety. More than anything, she wants to make sure everything was done the right way to help her son.
“As long as the people did everything they could, if they did everything they could and they couldn’t save him, that’s fine,” she said. “But if they didn’t, that’s a problem.”
Now, Brown is working to bring her son back home to Newark, but she said her work to find out what happened to him is not over.
“I see that my son is the only person that this is happening to,” she said. “That’s my goal. That’s my goal, to keep this from happening to someone else.”