Federal wrongful death lawsuit filed following inmate death at Whitley Co. Jail
WHITLEY COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA) - A federal wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Whitley County officials after a 32-year-old woman died while incarcerated at the county’s jail in 2020.
Indiana law firm Wagner Reese, LLP says 32-year-old Tia Meyers was found dead in her detox cell in the early morning hours of Aug. 29, 2020. The lawsuit says surveillance video shows that jail employees “merely peered into the cell via the in-cell window” but did not check to see that she was responsive. It says video shows she did not move for nearly fourteen hours.
During a telephone call from the Whitley County Jail on Aug. 28 at 2:18 p.m., the lawsuit says Meyers’ last words were with her mother: “I don’t want to die…pray for me, mom.”
A press release from the law firm notes that Meyers was suffering from a substance abuse disorder, like 65% or more of the population in American correctional facilities do, research says.
The law firm says Whitley County Jail officials were “woefully unprepared” to help inmates such as Meyers, who are at risk for medical emergencies due to withdrawal. They say Meyers, who openly admitted to using drugs daily, began experiencing withdrawal symptoms almost immediately once incarcerated and was put in a detox cell to be monitored.
They say despite the knowledge that Meyers was experiencing withdrawal, jail officers did not properly perform the necessary wellness checks.
“If any officer or medical personnel had physically checked on Tia, they would have realized she was experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency and had lapsed into a coma. If any officer or medical personnel had physically checked on her during this time frame, Tia would have been taken to a hospital immediately and she would have survived. Instead, a 32-year-old mother suffered a horrible, preventable death,” the lawsuit says.
Meyers was arrested on Aug. 26 on a bench warrant that was issued after she failed to appear at a court hearing. They say her underlying charges were misdemeanor possession of marijuana, misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia (a marijuana pipe), and speeding.
WPTA has reached out to the Whitley County Sheriff’s Office for comment but has not yet heard back.
You can read the full complaint below.
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