Jail deputies placed Dahnontae McKinley in a "restraint chair" Saturday afternoon after pepper spray didn't deter him, Sheriff Dean Roesler said.
McKinley was found unresponsive during a routine check later in the day and taken to an area hospital. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
McKinley had been in the jail since Dec. 14 on charges of robbery, solicitation of prostitution and domestic violence, according to Roesler.
Video recordings from Saturday show him "pushing past a guard to escape his cell," the sheriff said. Several deputies took McKinley back to his cell, but he "again tried to forcibly escape" and "physically resisted" the officers, Roesler said.
Two jail deputies were treated at a hospital for injuries and released.
Katrina McKinley said her husband was healthy.
"I had just talked to him the day before," she said. "He sounded just fine. He was ready to come home. I just want to know what happened."
Jail video has been turned over to the Michigan State Police, which is investigating McKinley's death, Roesler said.