Family members of former Armstrong County Jail inmates who committed suicide there in 2011 and 2012 sued the county today, alleging that indifference to psychological conditions and the placement of blinds over windows led to the deaths.
Tyler Roberto Emigh, of Manorville, who had faced burglary, receiving stolen property and theft charges, was 21 at the time of his death almost two years ago.
According to the complaint, prison staff knew he was a heroin addict with mental illness and a suicide threat. He was placed alone in a cell in the Special Housing Unit, where, according to the complaint, a blind over the window prevented staff from monitoring him.
He hanged himself and died two days later, the complaint said.
The same attorneys, Gregory Swank and Charles Pascal, filed a separate complaint on behalf of the estate of Tyler Lee Watterson, of Kittanning, who was 24 at the time of his November death.
Mr. Watterson had been convicted of simple assault and attempted robbery. He told prison staff that he wanted mental health services and threatened suicide, according to the complaint.
Prison staff placed him alone in a cell with blinds, according to the complaint, and he hanged himself.
Both complaints name the county, warden David Hogue, Armstrong-Indiana Mental Health-Mental Retardation, the Family Counseling Center of Armstrong County and prison staff.
They allege violations of the inmates' rights, including the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, and each complaint demands more than $150,000 in damages.
Neither the county solicitor nor the commissioners could be reached for immediate comment.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.