gavel book 300MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (3/9/18) — A civil suit has been filed in U.S. District Court, Western Kentucky District Owensboro Division by the family of a Beechmont man, who died while incarcerated at the Muhlenberg County Jail last year.

The father, Harold English, wife Sara English and daughter of Harold Waymon English Jr. seek damages, alleging Jailer Mark Curry, jail staff and the county were “grossly negligent.”

Greenville Police Department launched an investigation after English, 34, was found dead in a detox cell at the jail on the morning of June 7. He was being held for alleged possession of methamphetamine after his June 5 arrest.

According to the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office, an autopsy report revealed English died as a result of alcoholism complications.

The federal suit lists English’s constitutional rights were violated while incarcerated at the facility, and the “defendants conduct was intentional or grossly negligent and was indicative not only of deliberate indifference to, but active malice and total and reckless disregard.”

According to court documents submitted by attorneys Cooper and Friedman PLLC based in Louisville, English was asked a series of questions while being booked into the jail. English requested to receive treatment from alcohol withdrawal and to go to the hospital, complaining the he was “not feeling well.” He was given a prescription medication, Hydroxyzine, at the jail, which “should not be given to individuals suffering from serious alcohol and/or substance withdrawal.”

The civil suit states English was dispensed medication without his consent. Hydroxyzine is regularly dispensed by MCDC “in order to quell symptoms so that inmates may appear for court.”

The plaintiffs contend jail staff falsified documents upon asking English if he wished to go to the hospital, recording “no” as his response. The Muhlenberg County attorney has not yet responded to the civil suit.

“An individual working at MCDC was contacted by English’s mother on June 6, 2017,” according to the original proceeding court document. “During that conversation, English’s mother expressed her concerns that English was dying, and stated that English needed medical attention. A representative of MCDC assured English’s mother that she would not let English die. Defendants Mark Curry, Sid Fitch and MCDC had actual knowledge of these communications, and still did not seek appropriate medical attention for English.”

In addition, the suit claims English did not have sufficient access to water and was forced to drink from a toilet.

The documents also list that no reasonable jailer or law enforcement officer would typically engage in that sort of conduct in relation to an inmate, and that jail staff “had a culpable state of mind in denying English immediate treatment for alcohol and/or substance withdrawal.”

The facility is required to check on inmates being held in detox cells every 20 minutes per state statute. The suit claims the jail staff “failed to perform direct in-person surveillance of English every 20 minutes,” and the jail failed to implement adequate policies to prevent his death pertaining to alcohol or substance abuse withdrawal.

According to a report last year, Jailer Mark Curry was in Jefferson County for training during English’s incarceration. He said he packed up and immediately returned to Greenville upon learning of English’s death. Curry said when he returned to the jail, he learned that English had appeared in court June 6 and was apparently fully functional.

Curry said he viewed observation video of English’s bunk during the early hours of Wednesday, when English apparently died. He said English could be seen moving throughout the night and apparently only stopped moving around the time staff was serving breakfast. At that time, they expected English to arise for breakfast, but he did not.

Muhlenberg County is required to respond to the complaint by March 19.

Editor's note: The civil suit states only one side of the case.

Doreen Dennis
SurfKY News Director
Region 2

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