The Cattaraugus County District Attorney's Office, headed by Lori Pettit Rieman, will serve as a special prosecutor to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against Erie County Holding Center deputies in the death of an inmate in 2012.
The state Commission of Correction, which investigates in-custody deaths, recommended a criminal investigation after determining that inmate Richard A. Metcalf Jr. died of asphyxia at the hands of jail deputies, not a heart attack as the county medical examiner determined at the time.
While then-District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III charged no one at the conclusion of a state police investigation in 2013, current DA John J. Flynn Jr. has said he wants a new investigation conducted in light of the Commission of Correction's finding.
However, Flynn's office employs a relative of one of the jail sergeants involved, Robert Dee. Citing the conflict of interest, Flynn asked State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns to appoint another prosecutor.
Burns told lawyers Wednesday that the Cattaraugus County District Attorney's Office would handle the matter.
One of the lawyers, Thomas J. Casey, is helping with the wrongful-death lawsuit filed against Erie County. The lawyers have assembled a large cache of information on the case and are willing to share it with the prosecutors, Casey said.