Lawsuit filed after detainee dies in detention center

Jun 20, 2019

It might be assumed by many in Houston that when a person is taken into police custody, many of their rights are forfeited until their cases can be heard at an arraignment. Yet that is simply not the case. Even in matters related to their arrests, a defendant has the right to seek counsel from a legal or psychological professional and health care treatment if it is needed. In cases involving the latter, needed care should be rendered before a person is even taken in by authorities to be detained. That way any medical issues that they may be suffering from can be addressed to ensure that they are healthy enough to go into police custody. 

When law enforcement officers do not respect that right, the results can be fatal. That is what is being alleged in a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of a man who died in a detention facility in South Carolina. In the lawsuit, the family alleges that the man was clearly displaying signs of alcohol intoxication and drug impairment when he was arrested, yet rather than taking him for treatment, authorities took him to the detention center. The lawsuit goes on to claim that the man continued to show signs of distress and even was allowed to ingest more controlled substances, yet he was never ordered to be seen by a physician. He later died of drug toxicity. 

While it may be understood that the job of law enforcement authorities is to protect and serve the communities they work in, it should not be forgotten that even those that they take into custody are members of those communities (and thus their obligation extends to them). One needing to take civil action against law enforcement may first want to consult with an attorney.