An inmate was found dead Sunday at the Burke County Jail.

John Howard Lambert, 61, of Drexel, was found unresponsive on Sunday during a routine jail check, according to a statement from the Burke County Sheriff’s Office.

CPR was administered and EMS was called to the scene, but Lambert was pronounced dead in jail, the sheriff’s office said.

Officers picked up Lambert at UNC Health Blue Ridge around 2:40 p.m. on Christmas Eve when he was released, according to an arrest report from the Morganton Department of Public Safety. Lambert had an outstanding warrant for assault on a woman.

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There, the arresting officer spoke to the doctor in charge. The doctor told officers that Lambert was able to walk, stand and was completely coherent, but refused to get out of bed, according to the arrest report.

“The doctor said he (Lambert) was playing games and refusing to stand up,” the arresting officer wrote in his report.

Officers helped hospital staff put Lambert in a wheelchair and he was transported to Burke County Jail where he was booked. He was placed in jail under a 48-hour detention, according to the arrest report.

Lambert’s death is being investigated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the sheriff’s office said, and any findings will be forwarded to the district attorney’s office for review.


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