No charges to be filed in death of McHenry County jail inmate Colton Sabo; lawsuit pending

Colton Sabo

Charges will not be filed against the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office in the death of an inmate found unresponsive in his jail cell last year.

The sheriff’s office “recently received the final investigation of the in-custody death of Colton Sabo. This investigation was conducted by the Major Investigation Assistance Team (MIAT) and reviewed by the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office. After a review of the investigation, the State’s Attorney declined to file charges,” according to a sheriff’s news release issued Thursday.

Sabo, 31, of Poplar Grove, was found unresponsive in his cell on July 28 and died the next day at a hospital. The McHenry County Coroner has said his death is undeterminable. Sabo’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.

The family of Donald Hamer, 56, of Marengo, who died after being sick in the jail then transferred to the hospital where he died days later, also has filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.

Louis Meyer, an attorney representing the Sabo and Hamer families, said he is “not surprised” by the state’s attorney’s decision.

“This does not change how I will litigate the cases, and I will have the power of depositions to have those in charge sit down and have to answer questions from me,” Meyer said.

Sabo’s was the fourth and final jail-related death being investigated since last year. The others were Sean Grendel, Randy Little, and Timothy Mumford. In April the state’s attorney’s office said after an investigation they were not filing charges in those deaths either.

Grendel, 51, of McHenry was found unresponsive in his jail cell by a correction officer Nov. 21. He was pronounced dead at the scene by first responders.Little, 59, of Harvard died Dec. 23 in a hospice facility of a terminal illness. Mumford, 74, of Johnsburg was found unresponsive and declared dead on Dec. 5.

“We’d like to extend our gratitude to the State’s Attorney’s Office, McHenry County Coroner, and members of MIAT for their assistance in completing this matter,” the news release said. “[The sheriff’s office] empathizes with the family and members of our community affected by this loss. The Sheriff’s Office is committed to the health and safety of each inmate and is confident in our Corrections Officers’ ability to maintain a safe environment.

“In the case of any inmate death, an investigation by an independent agency is always conducted. In recent events, McHenry County Major Investigation Assistance Team has been designated to act as the independent agency. Details are not released until MIAT, in conjunction with the Coroner’s Office and the State’s Attorney’s Office, concludes the review of the matter,” the release said.

“The Sheriff’s Office receives guidance on best practices through the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) standards and American Correctional Association (ACA) accreditation standards,” the release said. “The Sheriff’s Office’s policies and procedures, as well as the training and professionalism of our Corrections Officers, ensure that these standards are met or exceeded.” Procedures can be reviewed at

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