Latest News 2013 February Pepper Sprayed to Death in Jail

Pepper Sprayed to Death in Jail

A widow has recently settled her wrongful death lawsuit against Ohio Prison Health Services and other entities for an undisclosed amount, in regards to her husband's 2009 death while he was incarcerated. According to Naples News, N.C. was pepper sprayed enough times, under restraints and without sufficient access to oxygen, that it led to his death.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Poster Chappell oversaw the approximate five-hour long settlement conference.

Widower J.C.'s Cleveland-based attorney, William Hawal, commented, "(N.C.) suffered a horrific prelude to his death, being restrained naked in the restraint chair while covered with orange pepper spray, a spit hood over his head and being deprived of water and toileting."

The settlement did not address making any changes to the jail system. However, according to Hawal "…it would be difficult to imagine that they would continue to expose themselves to such liabilities."

Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Larry King said that the settlement has to go through Ohio's probate court for 90 days before it would be disposed of back in federal court.

It is expected that the sheriff's portion of the settlement will be disclosed to the public in the future.

On May 31, 2009 N.C. was pepper sprayed 10 times in a 43-hour long period. He allegedly pleaded for help, complained that he could not breathe, and was largely ignored.

N.C. had stopped taking his medications while visiting his brother in Florida. His brother asked him to leave his home and N.C. sought out a motel in North Fort Myers. During this time he was picked up and arrested for trespassing.

The trial was scheduled to begin in March. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, in refusing to dismiss several charges made in the lawsuit, wrote, "(N.C.) was pepper-sprayed repeatedly, even after he was placed in a restraint chair. The record shows that not only was (N.C.) subjected to prolonged exposure to pepper spray, but he was never adequately decontaminated after being exposed to the pepper sprayings. And the unit's ventilation system was obviously not adequate to dissipate the amount of spraying, as evidenced by testimony regarding the need to wear masks on the unit because of the pepper spray in the air."

Charges and allegations allowed to proceed against the sheriff included assault and battery, failure to train, negligent hiring, retention and supervision. The deputies and nurses were charged with deliberate indifference. Prison Health Services was charged with medical negligence claims.

The original lawsuit listed 20 defendants – all deputies and nurses – and some have since been dismissed.

N.C., behaving too loudly in the prison environment, was put in an observation wing. When this failed to quiet him jailers restrained him, began pepper spraying him and fogged his cell with the same chemical.

After passing out N.C. was taken to Gulf Coast Medical Center. He succumbed to his injuries two days later. The medical examiner's office ruled that he had died due to heart and brain failure – and as pepper spray was a contributing factor the death was deemed a homicide.

A death is considered a wrongful death if it was caused by the actions, or inactions, of another party. If you suspect that your loved one died in this manner contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss a lawsuit and sue for your damages.