Photo from Nico Collins’ obituary.

This story is a part of Cell by Cell, a project to track every jail death in Oklahoma and examine jail conditions.

An inmate who died by suicide in the Cimarron County jail hanged himself with an extension cord that was left in or near his cell by construction workers, records show.

Nico Lee Collins, 29, died in the jail on Feb. 5. 2019, after he was booked for public intoxication. A report the Cimarron County Sheriff’s Office filed with the Oklahoma State Department of Health Jail Inspection Division states he was placed in an isolation cell, but hanged himself with a cord that was left by contractors who had installed new windows in the cell.

Jailers did hourly visual and physical checks on Collins, according to the report. However, just before midnight, Collins moved away from the jailer’s view. They thought he was using the restroom, the report states.

About 10 minutes later, when Collins still could not be seen in his cell, a jailer went to do a visual check on the man and found he had hanged himself. Sheriff’s office officials later learned Collins had used an orange industrial extension cord, according to the report.

The report states the extension cord was not inside the cell or near the cell when Collins was placed inside. However, the report added, new windows to the outside of the jail room were previously installed, and officials stated the cord was likely left over from construction.

“Very likely that the contracting company left an extension cord on the lid of the jail cell, towards the rear, where the windows are located,” the report states.

The report does not state when the construction occurred.

Cimarron County Sheriff’s Office did not return a request for comment by publishing time.

Intake documents completed at the time of Collins’ entry to the facility did not indicate he was at risk of self-harm, according to a statement the sheriff’s office released on Feb. 6. 

Cell by Cell: Tracking every death in Oklahoma jails