A Westbrook man died while in custody at the Cumberland County Jail on Thursday night, the sheriff’s office said Friday.

Adam Davis Barnes, 34, was brought into the jail in Portland around 6 p.m. Thursday after being arrested in Portland, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. He was found unresponsive in his holding cell a little more than an hour later.

The state medical examiner’s office performed an autopsy Friday morning, but the cause of death was not yet clear.

“We are told from the medical examiner’s office that they will require additional studies before they are prepared to rule on cause of death,” Portland Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch said at a news conference Friday afternoon. “It does not appear to be suspicious at this time.”

Malloch said the staff at Walgreens on Allen Avenue called 911 on Thursday afternoon to report a man in the store who was behaving suspiciously and might be under the influence of drugs.

Police arrived as Barnes was leaving in his vehicle. He did not stop when officers tried to pull him over, Malloch said, and there was a brief pursuit. On Washington Avenue Extension, Barnes struck a parked and unattended utility trailer, but continued driving.


Shortly afterward, he stopped the car and was arrested. Police found cocaine and prescription Xanax in the vehicle, but it was unclear how much. There were no field sobriety tests conducted.

“He was arrested without incident,” Malloch said. “At that point, he was compliant.”

Chief Deputy Naldo Gagnon of the sheriff’s office said Barnes was walking and talking when he arrived at the jail. While he was too aggressive for a full medical screening, a nurse determined Barnes was medically stable to enter the jail and did not need to be transported to the hospital. Gagnon said Barnes needed “light assistance” walking to the holding cell but did not appear to be injured and never asked for medical attention.

Gagnon said there appeared to be “nothing wrong with him.”

“He answered all the questions to the satisfaction of the nurse to be admitted,” Gagnon said. “There was nothing suspicious. … We have intoxicated people come in all the time that we deal with, and he was of the normal range.”

Barnes had been charged with failing to stop, possession of scheduled drugs, violating bail, leaving the scene of an accident, driving to endanger and falsifying evidence. His criminal record was not available Friday.


Jail officials checked on Barnes every 15 minutes in his holding cell, which Gagnon described as protocol. It was during one of these routine checks that he was found unresponsive, a little more than an hour after he had been brought in. The sheriff’s office said jail officers gave Barnes first aid and attempted CPR until a Medcu ambulance arrived. The jail said Medcu paramedics also tried to resuscitate Barnes but were unsuccessful.

The sheriff’s office could not immediately say whether Barnes was pronounced dead at the jail, while en route to the hospital or at the hospital.

The death is being investigated by the sheriff’s office, Portland police and the state medical examiner’s office.

“As far as we can see right now, everything was done with protocol,” Gagnon said.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:


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