Settlement Reached after Inmate’s Death
Lawyers for a 10-year old California boy whose father died while an inmate in the Santa Rita Jail have reached a settlement with the jail health care provider and Alameda County. According to court records, the family claimed that the man was beaten, tased and not given adequate medical attention.
Martin Harrison of Oakland had been arrested and charged with failing to appear for a drunk driving charge a few days prior to the incident. The family acknowledges that Harrison was a chronic alcoholic, but was healthy at the time of his arrest. Police say that Harrison was acting erratically, blocking his toilet, and throwing objects in his cell. They claim he charged officers when they attempted to remove him from the cell so they could clean it, requiring them to use Tasers and physical force to restrain him. His family says Harrison’s actions were related to severe alcohol withdrawal, and that the police used excessive force in restraining him. Harrison was moved to the prison infirmary and eventually to a hospital, where he later died of a heart attack.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Harrison’s now 10-year-old son, who was 7 when his father died, was to provide support for the child. Harrison’s four adult children have filed a separate lawsuit, which has not reached settlement at the time. Alameda County will pay $500,000; Corizon Health, which contracts with the county to provide medical services at the jail, will pay the remaining $500,000. Of the award, $745,000 is to be placed into a trust account for Harrison’s son, with the balance going for legal fees.
All officers involved in the altercation were placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. The officers were reinstated after the investigation determined there was no wrongdoing on their part. One of the officers involved testified that Harrison ignored his warnings and moved at him aggressively, prompting him to deploy his Taser.
When excessive force is suspected as the cause or contributing factor in an incident that causes injury or death, a wrongful death claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an incident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by excessive force.