Resident of state psychiatric unit died after ‘altercation with several corrections officers’

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Gated entrance to the State Psychiatric Unit in Concord. File Photo

CONCORD, NH – The Attorney General’s announced it is investigating the death of a resident of the state’s Secure Psychiatric Unit, first reported on April 29.

Jason Rothe, 50, has been identified as the resident. His death was announced Saturday evening as an “untimely death.”

According to a news release issued May 1, Mr. Rothe was residing at the state Secure Psychiatric Unit (SPU) in Concord which is housed on the state prison campus but is a separate building overseen by a medical director.

At approximately 12:55 p.m., Mr. Rothe was involved in a physical altercation with several corrections officers in the SPU, according to the AG’s office. After that altercation, corrections officers noticed that Mr. Rothe was not responsive and attempted CPR. Despite those efforts, Mr. Rothe was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy of Mr. Rothe on April 30, 2023. The cause and manner of Mr. Rothe’s death are inconclusive and are pending further investigation.

The exact circumstances surrounding this incident remain under investigation.

Following the Attorney General’s announcement, the NH Department of Corrections issued the following statement:

The Department of Corrections strives to provide adequate and appropriate care to all residents regardless of their history. Any death of a resident under the care and custody of the Department is a tragedy and the Department extends its sympathy to the family of Mr. Rothe.

The Department of Corrections is cooperating with the investigation by the New Hampshire Department of Safety Division of State Police and the New Hampshire Department of Justice. On Saturday afternoon, the Department of Corrections placed the officers involved in the use of force on administrative leave pending review.

The Secure Psychiatric Unit is a separate and independent facility on the campus of the New Hampshire State Prison established under commitment statutes to provide involuntary treatment to those persons when an independent entity determines “that the person would present a serious likelihood of danger to himself or to others if admitted to or retained in a receiving facility in the state mental health services system.”

Statutes that reference admission criteria to the SPU include NH RSA 622:45, RSA 171-B, RSA 135-C, RSA 135-E, and RSA 651:9-a. The NH Department of Corrections operates the SPU pursuant to and in accordance with RSA 622:45, RSA 622:52, and N.A. Admin R. Cor 504, et seq.

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Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!