An Arkansas inmate who lived with severe mental illness was neglected by jail staff and healthcare providers and allowed to starve to death in a solitary confinement cell, a new lawsuit alleges.
According to the Washington Post, the family of 50-year-old Larry Eugene Price recently filed a wrongful-death lawsuit after he lost over 100 pounds and died while detained at Sebastian County Detention Center.
Before his death, Price, who was unhoused, would frequently wander into the Fort Smith, Arkansas police station. But during one of his visits to the station, Price was arrested on a state felony charge after he pretended to point a gun at officers using his fingers while threatening and cursing at them.
Police said they arrested Price for his well-being and agreed that he was no immediate threat. After he was detained, Price went before a judge who set bail at $100, a price he couldn't afford.
According to the family's lawsuit, Price never sat trial for the charges and became "morbidly skeletal" during his detainment in the Sebastian County Detention Center. The 6'2'' inmate started out at 200 pounds but weighed less than 90 pounds at the time of his death, per the suit.
When Price refused to take his antipsychotic medication, a psychiatrist contracted by the jail discontinued his prescription and “never made any effort to follow up with Mr. Price or to address his serious mental health needs,” the suit states. Price allegedly told jail medical staff that he was "sick" and "lost a lot of weight," yet no doctor's appointment was made because he was deemed "non-compliant."
The lawsuit seeks a trial by jury, arguing that Price's 14th Amendment rights were violated. Sebastian County, Turn Key, which is the healthcare corporation that provides medical services to inmates in the jail, and a Turn Key psychiatrist are all named as defendants in the suit.
“He was not serving a sentence. He was awaiting trial the whole time — for a crime that he wasn't mentally capable of committing,” said Erik Heipt, an attorney for the family.
Beverly Ann, Price's aunt, said she tried to visit him in jail several times and was never told that it would only take $100 to release him. Price wasn't able to fill out paperwork to list her as a visitor, Ann said.
"They could have told me...I would have given up $100 to get him out of there so he didn't pass away like he did," Ann said in a statement.