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Sheriff’s office paying $1M to settle 2 jail suicide suits

August 24, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office has agreed to pay $1 million to settle lawsuits brought after two jail inmates killed themselves in 2016, a New Orleans newspaper reported.

Public records requests revealed that the sheriff’s office is paying $575,000 to settle with the family of 61-year-old Cleveland Tumblin and $425,000 to the family of 15-year-old Jaquin Thomas, NOLA.com ′ The Times-Picayune reported Friday.

Court papers show Sheriff Marlin Gusman and other defendants deny liability and the families agreed to dismiss their lawsuits after the final payments are made. Those payments are scheduled Feb. 1 for Tumblin’s son and Oct. 1 for Thomas’ mother.

Tumblin died in March 2016 and Thomas in October 2016, within the first year after inmates were moved to a new $145 million jail.

A lawsuit filed by Tumblin’s son, Cleveland Henderson, alleges that Tumblin’s death was the result of “deliberate indifference” by the sheriff’s office.

His documented mental health problems included bipolar and paranoid schizophrenia, and he asked to see a mental health professional but was never seen by one, the suit states.

Tumblin hanged himself inside a shower stall that was locked from the inside and died two days later at a hospital, according to information from the sheriff’s office and testimony by a federal jail monitor.

The monitor, Dr. Raymond Patterson, testified in April 2016 that he had advised administrators before the jail opened to remove exposed metal poles in the shower stalls as a suicide risk and had never in 35 years seen locks that could keep staffers out of jail shower stalls. The sheriff’s office removed the locks shortly after that hearing, a department spokesman said at the time.

The lawsuit filed by Thomas’ mother, Tresscel Thomas, said family members were never notified after he was assaulted in a jail fight, and he did not get medication for his depression “because the hospital never sent medical forms to his legal guardian.”

New Orleans City Council members investigating the teen’s suicide learned he had been held in the adult jail for nearly a month without bond before going before a judge, even though law requires a hearing within 72 hours of arrest. Jail officials also confirmed information about the fight.

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Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com

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