Glenn Foster Jr., a former defensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints, died this week after being arrested in Alabama and allegedly denied medical care in a whirlwind saga that even had the police chief whose department arrested him asking questions.
According to a statement from the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), the agency is investigating the “in-custody death” of Foster, 31, which was first reported on Monday at a medical facility in Northport, Alabama.
The agency said Foster’s body has been released to the Alabama Department of Forensic Services for further investigation, but declined to answer further questions. A spokesperson for the latter agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Foster’s mother, Sabrina Foster, told The Daily Beast late Tuesday that her son “died in custody after being denied medical treatment” by local law enforcement.
“We asked them for him to have medical treatment and they denied him for two days. I told them he has not eaten or [had] water and his organs could shut down, and they didn’t seem concerned,” she added.
Todd Hall, the sheriff of Pickens County who presides over the jail, initially declined to comment on the case in a text message to The Daily Beast.
When asked about the alleged denial of medical treatment, Hall told The Daily Beast in a phone interview that he could not provide more information.
“I can’t as long as the SBI is investigating the case,” he said. “I wish I could be more forthcoming, but right now we just don’t have any information.”
Jail records show Foster was booked into the jail on Saturday morning after being arrested in Reform, Alabama, on three charges of reckless endangerment, as well as individual charges of resisting arrest and attempting to elude.
Reform Police Chief Richard Black told The Daily Beast an officer from his agency spotted Foster driving 92 mph in a 45 mph zone late Friday night into early Saturday morning in a black Jeep Wrangler.
Black claimed that when his officer gave chase, Foster accelerated to “very high rates of speed.”
During the chase, Black claimed, Foster drove on the wrong side of the road and nearly hit cars head on. Later, deputies from the Pickens County Sheriff's Office joined the chase until it reached nearby Gordo, Alabama, where Black said local police deployed spike strips that stopped the car.
Black said a Sheriff’s Office deputy and a Gordo police officer handcuffed Foster after a “minor tussle.” The Gordo police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“There was no pepper spray, no tasers,” Black claimed. “It was not like an all-out fight.”
After Foster was booked on charges for the chase, Black said, his officers left the Pickens County Jail and had no further contact with him. But the chief said Foster’s family later reached out to him.
By Sunday, Black continued, he had spoken to the parents, who arranged to get Foster out on bond. However, Black said that after he released Foster from his own agency’s charges and planned to get him to a hospital for a “medical intervention,” things went mysteriously south.
“At that time, something happened in the jail, I don’t know what, but they told me he could not be released because they had charges,” Black told The Daily Beast.
Jail records show Foster’s charges were changed that afternoon to three counts of simple assault and one count of third degree robbery. The arresting agency was listed as the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.
According to court filings obtained by The Daily Beast, just before he was set to be released, Foster was accused of trying to steal socks, and involved an alleged fight with an inmate, and then with a deputy and a corrections officer. He was was re-charged.
Another complaint states that after the initial alleged assault, Foster “actively fought” with a deputy and correctional officer trying to handcuff him. According to the complaint, the deputy was cut on his nose and hand.
On Monday, the Pickens County District court attempted to conduct an initial appearance for Foster at 1 p.m. at the Pickens County Jail, but Foster was “non-compliant and refused to respond to or answer any questions,” according to court filings. After the court attempted to inform Foster of his charges, the filing states Foster was “not cooperative other than to demand representation.”
Due to “information” from law enforcement about Foster’s behavior during his arrest and while being held at the County Jail, as well as the court’s observation of his “mental state” during the appearance, the judge ruled Foster was not “mentally stable and a danger to himself and others” and was ordered to be held without bond and to get a mental evaluation.
A motion for examination was filed by Foster and his attorney, and the court found “reasonable” grounds to question his mental capacity. The court filing indicates Foster intended to pursue a plea of not guilty by reason of medical disease or defect.
The court ordered Foster to get an examination by a psychiatrist or psychologist with the Alabama Department of Mental Health at the Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility in Tuscaloosa. The order states the Sheriff’s Office was responsible for the “custody, care and transportation of Foster” during the visit.
However, it is unclear if Foster ever made it to the facility, as he was pronounced dead in a medical facility in Northport, about five miles west.
Black told The Daily Beast only that he was notified on Monday afternoon that “something happened” and Foster was dead.
The Pickens County Coroner’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While the circumstances of Foster’s death were still coming into focus, there is a long history of people dying while jailed in Alabama, a state with a notorious penal system that disproportionately ensnares people of color. And while his own role in the Foster case was unclear, Sheriff Hall was personally sued this spring after he was alleged to be present for the fatal police shooting of mentally-ill Black man Wallace Wilder in Gordo in 2019.
Foster was signed by the Saints in 2013 as an un-drafted free agent and played with the team for two seasons. He played college football at the University of Illinois.
Of late, Foster was the owner of a granite countertop business with multiple stores in Louisiana, according to the local CBS affiliate 4WWL, which previously reported on his death. On Facebook, Foster celebrated the opening of his second location in New Orleans in January, writing, “It is good to be back Crescent City where the fans are like family.”
Courtenay Woodhead, a sales representative for the company in New Orleans, told The Daily Beast she had worked for Foster since March. “Glenn and his wife are incredibly kind, generous people. And their family is incredible. Like, his daughters are amazing,” she said. “We run a very successful company. SLAG means everything to us.”
Woodhead said she was still processing the news and broke down in tears at one point. “Glenn is an incredibly kind person and a very amazing boss,” she added.
Foster had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was about 20, which he had been mostly able to manage before his arrest, his father, Glenn Foster Sr., told the CBS affiliate.
Rep. Kam Buckner of the Illinois State House’s 26th district told The Daily Beast he had known Foster from their time growing up together on Chicago’s South Side as football players. Buckner told The Daily Beast he saw Glenn “grow” after the two of them lived in New Orleans and he watched Foster become a businessman.
“Glenn was so much more than a football player,” he said. “He was multi-talented and multi-dimensional.”
After learning some initial details surrounding Foster's death, Buckner said he hoped Foster's family and all of his loved ones would get clarity sooner than later.
“Whenever anybody loses their life in police custody, there are some questions that arise,” he said, adding that he hopes Foster’s family is able to “get answers quickly, and get answers completely.”