West News Wire: A lawsuit against the Sebastian County jail in Arkansas claims that staff members allowed a prisoner to starve to death and neglected him while he was under their supervision.
In August 2021, after being held for more than a year, guards discovered Larry Price Jr., 51, unconscious and laying in a pool of his own urine and tainted water, according to the complaint. According to the Arkansas State Crime Lab, his once 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound physique had shrunk to to 121 pounds.
According to the Arkansas State Crime Lab, Price suffered from acute starvation and dehydration.
According to Sebastian County, Price was pronounced dead on August 29, 2021, at approximately 1:35 A.M. In wellness-check documents obtained by sources, after Price had died, prison staff marked his log 10 different times with the same seven words, “Well-Being Check Inmate and Cell OK.”
Attorney Hank Balson, who is representing the Price estate in a lawsuit against Sebastian County that was filed Friday, said Price’s death was a failure on nearly every level of the judicial process, starting from his detainment to his death.
“This is a jail. Its primary purpose is not to be a mental health facility,” Balson told news reporters. “And, yet, once the government takes somebody into custody, they are required to provide them with the basic necessities of life, food, water, and necessary medical care and mental health care to protect them from harm, to prevent them from deteriorating.”
Price was arrested in Fort Smith, Arkansas, after entering a police department on August 19, 2020, and verbally threatening officers while using his empty hand to resemble a gun, according to the lawsuit.
Price was often homeless, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, hallucinations, and “a developmental disability that significantly impaired his intellectual and adaptive functioning,” according to his lawyers.
The officers were familiar with Price because he would often enter the police department and act out erratically and he seemed more agitated this time, the lawsuit states. According to the lawsuit, after officers couldn’t calm him down, they arrested him and charged him with terroristic threatening in the first degree.
Price was detained and placed almost immediately in solitary confinement because of his mental state and deteriorated quickly, the lawsuit states.
Price’s family’s said it was difficult to get access to him since the COVID-19 pandemic blocked visitations at the jail. His brother, Rodney Price, lived in California and said the jail wouldn’t help to facilitate communication between the siblings.
“I feel like the Sebastian County jail, and every employee that had contact with him, failed my brother,” Rodney Price said in a statement through Balson. “All it would have taken was one person to sound off. If one person stepped up to the plate, I feel like my brother would be alive today.”
“The autopsy said the inmate died with COVID. All of us want to know more about what other factors may have led to his tragic death. That’s why we’re continuing to look into what happened,” Hobe Runion, Sheriff of Sebastian County said.”