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Father of former NFL player who died in police custody says his son may have had a manic episode

<i>Wilfredo Lee/AP</i><br/>Former NFL player Glenn Foster Jr.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Former NFL player Glenn Foster Jr.

By Kay Jones, Nick Valencia and Travis Caldwell, CNN

Former NFL player Glenn Foster Jr. may have been going through a manic episode in the days leading up to his arrest and was acting strangely during a recent phone call a few days before he died, his father told CNN on Wednesday.

Glenn Foster Sr. last spoke to his son by phone on December 3, the day before Foster Jr. was arrested in western Alabama, he said. The 31-year-old died Monday at a medical facility north of Tuscaloosa, according to a statement from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which is now investigating the incident.

In their phone conversation, Foster Jr. was being “uncooperative” and “not being reasonable,” Foster Sr. said. He did not elaborate on what Foster Jr. was being uncooperative about.

“You could tell he was not his normal self,” Foster Sr. said, telling CNN that his son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and previously had a manic episode during college. Foster Jr. was diagnosed at about 20 years old, reports; CNN has not confirmed that.

“He was in mental distress. We could see he was not in the best frame of mind, and we indicated that to the police chief,” Foster Sr. said about his conversation with Reform, Alabama, Police Chief Richard Black over the weekend.

State authorities are investigating the death of the former New Orleans Saints player two days after he was taken into police custody. Foster Jr. played as a defensive lineman for the Saints in 2013 and for part of the 2014 season, according to

Foster was arrested Saturday after officers spotted him driving up to 90 mph in a 45-mph zone, Black told

A high-speed chase between Foster and police ensued, with a spike strip used to slow Foster’s car before officers arrested him, Black told

Foster was headed to Atlanta for a business trip, his father told The Washington Post.

Jail records from Pickens County show that Foster was booked Saturday on three counts of reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and attempt to elude.

Foster’s family was informed of his arrest Saturday, and they told Black about his mental health struggles, Foster Sr. told the Post.

The police chief contacted Foster’s family because of his concern about the former player’s erratic behavior and made an arrangement for them to bail him out of jail and have him sent to a local hospital for evaluation, the chief told

Foster Sr. said the family arrived at the jail Sunday to take their son with a police escort to Alabama Birmingham Medical Center to seek medical treatment.

But when they arrived they were told Foster had been involved in an “altercation” with another inmate and was placed under the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office, the Post reported.

He was released at 3:14 p.m. Sunday and rebooked two minutes later, jail records show, on three counts of simple assault and one count of third-degree robbery.

The family was told they couldn’t visit Foster due to Covid-19 restrictions, according to the Post.

“The sheriff, after the altercation in jail, said he’s not going anywhere,” Foster Sr. told CNN. “I think my son would be alive today if he had received the treatment he needed.”

The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Arrangements were made for Foster to be taken to another facility Monday, Foster Sr. said, and the sheriff’s office in charge told the family he got into a cruiser without incident.

But when he arrived at the medical facility, Foster was unresponsive and couldn’t be revived, the Post reported.

“He arrived to his death,” Foster Sr. told the newspaper. “I don’t know what happened with him physically while he was in the jail because they wouldn’t let us see him.”

“I can’t get my son back, but we want whoever is responsible to pay for this,” his mother, Sabrina Foster, told

‘We haven’t been told anything’

The family has not been informed of Foster Jr.’s cause of death but was told by police an autopsy has been performed, Foster Sr. said.

“We haven’t been told anything. I don’t know if they beat my son to death or what? Did he succumb to his injuries or something? We just have no idea because (the sheriff’s office) aren’t saying anything,” Foster Sr. told CNN.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has not released more information on the circumstances of Foster’s death, but the agency said in a statement his body was released to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

The family will commission its own autopsy, attorney Ben Crump told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday night.

“We intend on having an independent autopsy to give this family and the public the answers they need to know about why is it when a Black person is having a mental health crisis in law enforcement custody, it leads oftentimes to a death sentence,” Crump said.

“We want justice and accountability,” Sabrina Foster told CNN.

The Pickens County coroner declined Wednesday to disclose the cause of death.

“We are referring all questions and comments to (the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency,)” Coroner Chad Harless told CNN when reached by phone.

According to an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency news release on Tuesday, Foster died Monday at a medical facility in Northport. “There is still no cause of death,” Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Trooper Senior Reginal King told CNN.

“Nothing further is available as the investigation is ongoing,” the statement said. “Once complete, the findings will be turned over to the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s Office.”

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