A Crafton man who tried to hang himself in the Allegheny County Jail in 2009 should have been recognized as a suicide risk upon another incarceration in 2011, but instead was put in a position to attempt suicide again, resulting in permanent disability, according to a lawsuit filed against the county today.
Vincent J. Demor, 43, who according to court records lives in Crafton, has a record of driving under the influence, drug possession and theft. The complaint in U.S. District Court, filed on behalf of Mr. Demor and his mother, quotes medical records that describe him as a heroin abuser.
In 2009, the complaint said, he was jailed and then transported to UPMC Mercy Hospital after a cellmate found him hanging by a sheet. He was hospitalized for three days, and later released from jail.
In February 2011, he was jailed for a parole violation and put in a "suicide prevention' pod," the complaint said. But on the second day of his stay he was again "found hanged in his cell," it said.
As a result of "anoxic brain injury," he has been institutional ever since, and will remain so for the rest of his life, the complaint said.
It said that if jail staff were properly trained and supervised, then Mr. Demor's history in 2009 would have prompted them to take more precautions to prevent a repeat suicide attempt. By failing to prevent Mr. Demor's second attempt, the county violated Mr. Demor's rights including his freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, it said, demanding compensatory damages.
A spokeswoman for Allegheny County declined comment, citing a policy against speaking about litigation.
The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that from 2000 to 2007, Allegheny County Jail ranked second among the nation's 50 biggest county lock-ups in suicide rate. Following more suicides, and some court settlements, then-Board of Health Director Bruce Dixon proposed a five-point suicide reduction plan.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord