Fayette County sued over inmate’s suicide

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The mother of a Fayette County man who died at age 25 while in jail awaiting trial has sued the county and jail officials, in a case that was transferred to federal court Monday.

Derek A. Thomas, of Oliver, was in the Fayette County Prison in December 2013, charged with burglary, theft and receiving stolen property, according to online court records.

Thomas was suffering from drug withdrawal, according to the complaint filed in March in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas, and “repeatedly requested and was denied medical care and treatment.” Other inmates also sought to alert staff to Thomas’ condition, according to the complaint by attorney Herbert A. Terrell.

On his second day of incarceration, Thomas used a bedsheet to hang himself, according to the complaint, and he died four days later “due to asphyxiation by hanging.”

The complaint named as defendants Fayette County, its warden and one other employee and its jail medical contractor PrimeCare Medical, alleging that their reckless indifference resulted in cruel and unusual punishment of Thomas and violation of his due process rights. Attorney Marie Milie Jones, representing the county, transferred the case to U.S. District Court. She denied the allegation of reckless indifference in an email response to questions.

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