9th inmate who died at Cuyahoga County Jail was a veteran, father of 4 and recovering addict

Justice Center inmate death: A veteran with a drug problem took his own life behind bars

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The fallout continues following yet another death behind bars at the Cleveland Justice Center.

This time, it’s a veteran who served his country for nearly a decade.

After returning home from his deployments, friends and family say Nicholas Colbert struggled with addiction.

Cathy Wilce met him after he’d gotten out of the U.S. Army.

“He wasn’t just an addict or a junkie," she said. "He was a father and a friend.”

They were both in recovery, struggling with opioid addiction.

“He didn’t talk about his deployment overseas, but I knew he was in the military, and it was hard for him," she said.

Last week, the 36-year-old veteran died just two days after he was booked into jail on drug charges.

“He didn’t die in there from an overdose. He had no OD. He killed himself. He hung himself, which means that there was something else going on mentally, that he possibly could have been helped with, that he wasn’t,” Wilce said.

Colbert is the ninth person to die inside this jail in less than a year.

“Why, why is he the ninth person to die, though? What is going on down there that they cant get it together?”

On the day of his death, a nurse came forward, tired of the way the medical staff is running at the jail.

Because of her job, we’re protecting her identity.

“I pray for these people, because it’s not fair that this is the reason they passed away,” she said.

In an exclusive interview Friday with 19 News, she told us the medical team here at the jail is understaffed and lacks leadership and guidelines to follow.

MetroHealth just took over running the healthcare at the jail last week.

The nurse thinks that will help, but says the short term outlook for anyone coming in is bleak.

“It’s going to take too long,” the nurse said. “I think there’s going to be more things that happen.”

That’s scary for someone who’s friends constantly struggle to keep their lives on track.

"I know I have a lot of people on my side, "Wilce said. “I wish Nick felt that same thing.”

Colbert leaves behind four daughters.

On Facebook, his family members said they always knew they may lose Nick to addiction, they just never thought he’d die in jail.

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