Suicides in Yaedon Police Custody Draw Attention to Police Actions, Training, and Resources

February 22, 2023

The Borough of Yaedon in Delaware County, Pennsylvania has gained attention after a series of individuals have died by suicide while in police custody.

As reported in today's edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the families of Shawn Morcho and Wendy Spence called the Yaedon Police Department for help with their loved ones who were undergoing mental health crises. Both instances led to the families' loved ones being taken into police custody, and left unattended in holding cells in the basement of Yaedon's borough hall, where they died by suicide. The two events happened four months apart.

Subsequently, the Morcho and Spence families have hired lawyers and are demanding answers from the police department. Additionally, after a review of the department's handling of both cases by the Delaware County District Attorney, Yaedon's mayor and borough council have asked the Department of Justice to investigate.

Shawn Morcho's cousin, Joar Dahn, was quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer saying, "This is not an anti-police sentiment; we all know the pressure of these jobs . . . but it's our sentiment that when you accept these jobs, they come with a great responsibility. And if they took that responsibility seriously, Shawn would still be here."

According to a lawsuit filed by Morcho's family, Shawn hanged himself in full view of his cell's surveillance cameras, and the officers did not notice or intervene until 47 minutes later.

Joar Dahn was again quoted, saying, "What happened to Shawn could have happened to anybody . . . And if changes aren't implemented in this borough, it could happen again."

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