An inmate believed to have hanged himself Wednesday in the Humboldt County jail had been involved in several physical altercations with correctional officers, said a spokesperson from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, which manages the jail.

Brenda Godsey, Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, said Thursday a correctional officer found the 25-year-old man hanging from a bedsheet in his cell around 3 p.m.

Family members identified him as James Peters, of Hoopa, and said they had been told he was brain dead and was being kept technically alive on life support equipment.

Ron Webster, one of Peters’ uncles, told The Eureka Reporter his nephew suffered from mental health problems.

He was “chemically unbalanced and on medication,” Webster said.

The news release stated Peters had been in custody since June 23, following his arrest by the Hoopa Valley Tribal Police Department on charges of false imprisonment, battery, cruelty to a child and multiple probation violations.

He was also charged with battery on a custodial officer, the release stated.

“He had assaulted correctional officers on more than one occasion,” Godsey said. “The most recent was when he broke the facial bones of a correctional officer” approximately three weeks ago.

The officer, she said, still had not returned to work.

Godsey said Peters was being housed in a single cell away from the general population because he had “demonstrated a need to be housed alone.”

A correctional officer in the housing unit had spoken to Peters only 15 minutes before he was found hanged, she said.

“There was no indication at all that he was suicidal or even distraught,” Godsey said. “I think there had been a conversation about the officer returning shortly to let him out for his shower time.”

The release stated Peters was awaiting transport to Napa State Hospital for a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.

Webster said the family had many unanswered questions.

“We want to know why he wasn’t on a suicide watch. We want to know why he was not observed more closely.”

But most important, Webster said, “I want to know if they’re going to treat this Indian kid’s death like this other non-Indian kid’s death a few weeks ago.”

Martin Frederick Cotton II died Aug. 9 in a sobering cell at the correctional facility following a series of fights, including one with officers from the Eureka Police Department. His cause of death is still unknown.