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Lawsuit filed against Jefferson County, jail over inmate death

by Eplunus Colvin | May 11, 2022 at 3:26 p.m.
The W.C. "Dub" Brassell Jefferson County Adult Detention Center is shown in this August 2019 photo.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday names Jefferson County and the W.C. “Dub” Brassell Detention Center as the responsible party in the 2021 death of inmate Dezman McBride.

Plaintiff Deborah McBride, through her attorney Chris Burks of WH Law, filed the suit in Jefferson County Circuit Court. According to the lawsuit, McBride was booked in the detention center on May 21, 2021, for a failure-to-appear warrant on criminal charges. McBride, 18, died at Jefferson Regional Medical Center on June 5.

The lawsuit claims grossly negligent treatment and intentional maltreatment of McBride and says McBride was struck, headbutted and injured by another inmate in a fight at the facility on the morning of June 1.

The lawsuit goes on to say in violation of Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office’s common practice and policy for its detention centers, Sgt. Deluca Etherly, who witnessed and interrupted the fight, did not immediately report the incident to the facility’s commanding officer. A report of the incident was not submitted by Etherly until the next day, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also claims McBride was not evaluated by a nurse or medical professional after the fight. McBride reportedly complained of pain and fatigue while other inmates witnessed him vomiting blood.

Officers at the detention center did not obtain medical care for McBride until approximately 10:42 p.m. on June 1, when he was transported to Jefferson Regional for evaluation, according to the lawsuit. The hospital reportedly prescribed McBride magnesium citrate for constipation, and he was sent back to the detention center. The sheriff’s office allegedly did not administer the medicine to the decedent.

From June 2-5, the lawsuit states, McBride complained he did not feel good, he could not see, and that his head and stomach were hurting. He also was described as having a large knot on his head from the injuries he suffered from the fight.

Officers later stated, according to the suit, McBride appeared mentally altered, appeared to be dizzy, and had difficulty walking straight.

On the morning of June 5, according to the lawsuit, McBride was found lying on the floor of his cell, having urinated and defecated on himself, telling Lt. Samuel Baker that he was unable to walk to the shower and clean himself. Baker and another inmate reportedly took McBride to the shower area and undressed him. He laid on the floor for up to 30 minutes unable to wash himself and had to be assisted by another inmate.

He was reportedly then helped back to his cell. The lawsuit said McBride begged for Baker and other inmates to contact his mother. Instead, McBride was given a blanket, jumpsuit and underwear and was left to lie on the floor because he had no mattress.

Baker allegedly did not seek medical care for McBride, in spite of the fact he had been in continuous medical distress for days, and could not walk or bathe himself.

Around 11 a.m. on June 5, the lawsuit states, Baker observed McBride lying on the floor of his cell wrapped in a blanket drooling. Baker contacted the nurse on duty who advised him to have McBride transported to Jefferson Regional for a medical evaluation and care.

McBride was transported by ambulance. According to the lawsuit, hospital staff attempted unsuccessfully to revive McBride, who was pronounced dead.

The lawsuit alleges the defendant’s actions between June 1-5 were willful and wanton, in disregard of the rights and safety of others, deliberately indifferent when they intentionally mistreated McBride during his confinement, and carelessly and extremely negligently failed to provide appropriate standard care.

McBride was a healthy, able-bodied 18-year-old man with a normal life expectancy, according to the lawsuit. Deborah McBride claims she has suffered mental anguish, adds pecuniary injuries have been sustained, and is seeking more than $200,000 for pain, suffering and medical expenses.

She is also demanding a trial by jury.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Dezman McBride's date of death in the first paragraph. McBride died June 5, 2021.

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