Rocky Point man hangs himself in police custody

A Rocky Point man who killed himself while in police custody Wednesday after being arrested on charges of driving under the influence of drugs showed no signs of being suicidal when he was processed, police said Thursday.

Jack Franqui, 26, was found dead at 7 p.m. in a Seventh Precinct holding cell, where he hanged himself, just over seven hours after his arrest on impaired driving while on drugs, resisting arrest and obstruction, police said.

Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commander of the Suffolk police homicide squad, which is investigating the death, said Franqui had been questioned about his mental status and any medications he took and filled out forms used to assess detainees.

"There was no indication he was suicidal," Fitzpatrick said.

However, Fitzpatrick said, about a year ago, Franqui was involved in a call in which he appeared to be "suicidal." Police responded to a report that Franqui had a shotgun, which he did not, but when police arrived, Franqui retrieved a handgun and wrestled with officers before a shot was fired. No one was injured. Fitzpatrick had no additional details.

At the time of his death, Franqui was on probation after pleading guilty last month to a weapons charge.

Franqui's father, also named Jack Franqui, reached by phone last night, was too distraught to talk and declined to comment.

The state Commission of Correction, which investigates all deaths in police custody, has launched a probe, a spokesman said.

Franqui's arrest on Wednesday came after police received a 911 call of a suspicious vehicle parked in the vicinity of Cordwood Path in Shoreham, Fitzpatrick said. An officer responding to the call told investigators she spotted Franqui sitting alone in the vehicle and smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the car.

She asked Franqui to step out of the vehicle, he said, but instead Franqui opened the driver's side of the Cadillac, revealing a dog. "He has a Doberman in the car and he said 'get her.' She's so alert, she slams the door back closed," Fitzpatrick said.

The officer called for backup and Franqui was arrested after a scuffle, he said.

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