Harvey’s family portrayed him as someone who makes them laugh and is there when they cry.
To Charie Francis, William Zachery Harvey was a brother. He was that and more.
“He was an uncle and he was my mother’s son,” Francis said during a April 9 press conference about Harvey’s death in police custody.
Harvey, 60, was found hanged in a Savannah Police Department interrogation room on April 2 after being brought for questioning for aggravated assault, according to the SPD and GBI.
The SPD closed two investigations into Harvey’s death, leading to the dismissal of Cpl. Silberleuschner and Sgt. Michael Kerr and the suspension of Officer Matthew White as part of the initial investigation.
Completed: 5 Savannah officials released, one on parole, after a man was hanged in police custody
A second investigation resulted in the firing of three officers – Sgt. Christopher Hewett, Cpl. Erica Tremblay and Officer David Curtis – after sharing an inappropriate hanging meme related to death.
The GBI’s investigation is still ongoing, but the preliminary cause and type of death have been classified as suicide by hanging, according to the April 16 press release.
Harvey’s family are still looking for answers.
More about each officer: Who are the five Savannah police officers hanged in the course of the investigation into William Harvey?
“Where in an interrogation room could he have done that? Where? How? ”Francis, Harvey’s youngest sister, asked during the April 16 press conference at Davis Bozeman Johnson’s law office.
Her older sister Felicia Shiggs was also present. “We just want to know how it happened, why it happened.”
Harvey’s family requested the release of video footage of the incident at the time, but the ongoing GBI investigation later confirmed in early May that no video footage of the incident was recorded.
Previous reporting:William Zachery Harvey’s family “blinded” to GBI’s verdict of death as suicide
According to a press release from Davis Bozeman Johnson Law, the company representing Harvey’s family, “the Savannah Police Department cannot activate the video in the interrogation room.”
Harvey’s mother, Shirley Harvey Francis, had said the news made her “angry”.
First report: “He was my lifeline”: William Zachery Harvey’s family heartbroken from death in police custody
At the first press conference on her son’s death in April, Francis pleaded for answers.
“I’m here because I want to know what happened to my child, I want to know, I need to know,” she said.
Francis, who is fighting cancer, said her son is her main caregiver.
“He was the closest thing God meant to me,” she said. “He saw that I was taking my medicine, he did everything for me, he was my lifeline in this world.”
Charie Francis said her other siblings check in with their mother regularly, but Harvey is by her side every day. Now they’re doing their best to make sure they’re okay, she said.
“He cooked her breakfast, lunch and dinner, washed and folded her clothes,” said the younger Francis. “Now she won’t have that anymore … I’m worried about her.”
She described Harvey as someone close to his family.
“He was known to us as Uncle Zach, and when we started having children he was known as ‘Uncle Bill’ by all of my nieces and nephews,” she said.
She said Harvey was there for her when she lost her own son.
“He was my shoulder to cry on …” said Charie Francis.
Charie also described Harvey as a man who “enjoyed life” and would make people around him laugh, including himself. He had attended their wedding last September.
“If you could see what he was like, you know he wasn’t the man he was; what they say he did,” she said. “It hurts, but I know it hurts my mother more.”
“He’s not just a 60-year-old man, he was my kid,” said Harvey’s mother. “As long as I live, he’s my child.”
Nancy Guan is the general reporter for the Chatham County communities. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @nancyguann.
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