Ben James Owen, 39, died in ICE custody at a Florida facility on Saturday
A 39-year-old British man who died while in ICE custody at a facility in Florida has been identified, as it’s revealed a second immigrant has died while in federal custody in just two days.
Ben James Owen was awaiting trial on a battery charge from Daytona Beach on November 17, 2019 and was in the process for removal from the country when he died of ‘self-strangulation’ at the Baker County Detention Center on Saturday at 7.52pm.
Owen – who was a married father according to social media – had entered the country lawfully on July 23, 2019 and was allowed to stay until December 10, 2019.
But he was taken into ICE custody on January 15, three days after he was arrested by Port Orange police for felony aggravated stalking after injunction, false imprisonment, domestic assault and violating the conditions of his pre-trial release.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement served his notice for removal on January 12.
Social media indicates he was married to an American woman and had a child
The social media profile belonging to the woman who appears to be his wife states that she is from New York and resides in Tennessee.
A preliminary investigation found the cause of death for the unidentified man was self-strangulation.
Owen was originally from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, UK.
Antony Grainger, who has been friends with Owen since they were five years old, told DailyMail.com: ‘He just didn’t seem the kind of person that would do that. Just had so much to live for. He was just so warm and funny, he had so many friends.
‘The last time I saw him he told me he loved me and that’s the memory I will remember – just a beautiful person.’
Of the charges Owen was facing, Grainger added: ‘That just seems totally out of character and not the person I’ve known all my life.’
Owen became the fifth person to die in ICE custody since October.
He was found dead at the Baker County Detention Center at 7.52pm. A preliminary investigation found the cause of death was self- strangulation
He was arrested on a battery charge from Daytona Beach on November 17 and was awaiting trial for that
Then January 12 he was arrested for aggravated stalking after injunction, false imprisonment, domestic assault and violating the conditions of pre-trial release
But on Monday a 63-year-old man from Cuba became the sixth after he died in a Florida hospital.
The preliminary cause of death was cardiac arrest.
Back in December, Nigerian man Anthony Oluseye Akinyemi, 56, died in federal immigration custody, just days after he was convicted of a sex offense and assault in Maryland.
He was found unresponsive in his cell at the Worcester County Jail in Snow Hill, Maryland, according to a news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The official cause of death was not immediately determined, but authorities believe Akinyemi took his own life by strangling himself.
Akinyemi had been charged with sexual abuse of a minor and was convicted in Baltimore City Circuit Court.
Anthony Akinyemi, 56, strangled himself in his cell at the Worcester County Jail in Maryland (pictured) in December, less than 24 hours after entering ICE following his conviction
Officials said he entered the US lawfully on a non-immigrant visa in 2017 but did not comply with the terms of his admission, leading to an immigration detainer being lodged against him in July following his arrest on the sex abuse charge.
At the time of his death, Akinyemi was in removal proceedings and was facing deportation back to Nigeria.
Under President Donald Trump, a number of people have been detained at record levels and, as of January, was detaining nearly 41,000 immigrants.
In August, nearly 55,000 people were in custody in private prisons and local jails across the U.S.
Despite Congress criticizing ICE’s health services, the agency says they spend more than $269million annually on those services alone.
In December 2019, House Oversight and Reform Committee revealed it opened an investigation into the health services of detained immigrants and demanded a series of documents.
‘ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases,’ they said in a statement.
- For confidential support in the US call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.
- For confidential support in the UK call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.