The Fiscal Court and Jailor Darwin Dennison, along with several jail employees, were named in the suit that claims failure to protect, medical indifference, negligent hiring, retention, supervising and that these factors resulted in the wrongful death of Downs.
The plaintiff’s in the case are Rose and Michael Downs, parents as well as administrators of the estate of Angela Downs.
“This is my daughter. She was a human being and she deserved to be treated like one,” said Rose Downs. “We just want answers.”
According to court records, Downs was arrested on February 6, 2009 and lodged in the detention center and placed on suicide watch.
The suit claims, all defendants are liable for Down’s suicide when the jail personnel did not have appropriate policies and procedures and/or failed to follow the same, to properly screen detainees for medical suicidal tendencies.
After placing Downs on suicide watch, they did so in a negligent careless manner and with such extreme indifference to the value of human life to such a degree to violate various constitutional rights of Downs, according to the lawsuit.
Because of the factors, attorneys for the Downs, say the county and county employees are responsible for all damages suffered by the plaintiffs.
Prior to being arrested Downs had been taken to the hospital and treated for an infection in her arm.
At the time of her arrest Deputy Jailor Jason Woosley had been contacted and he advised Supervisor Donnie Stewart to take Downs to the detention center and have the nurse on duty provide some type of antibiotics for the infection.
After being booked Downs was placed on a 10-minute suicide watch. Detention center employee Betty Henderson was responsible for monitoring the cell every 10 minutes in order to ensure that Downs did not harm herself.
Henderson recorded that Downs was taken to medical at 7:49 a.m. and brought back to her cell at 8:37 a.m.
The suit claims Henderson falsely recorded, repeatedly that from 8:50 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. Downs was “sitting on a mat.”
The Downs allege in the suit that cell number 141, where Downs was being housed, was equipped with a motion sensor camera. The video reveals some type of tubing in Angela’s hand at 9:04 a.m. however there is a one hour and 27 minutes discrepancy in the video after this last recording. The video camera reveals that recording had stopped until jail personnel opened the door at 10:33 a.m.
Court records show the next thing to happen was when Billy Swift allegedly placed a tray in the beanhole of the cell and when Downs did not come to the door Swift looked in and observed downs hanging from the video camera mount attached to the wall.
Swift opened the door and broke what appeared to be breathing machine tubing and contacted jail authorities that he needed immediate medical help.
Swift called 911 and Grayson county Emergency Medical Services arrived at 10:42 a.m.
Several other staff members were paged to cell 141 and although Downs was discovered at 10:33 neither CPR nor any other life saving techniques were started for a full six minutes, according to court records.
Court records indicate one of the defendants noticed what appeared to be intravenous (IV) lines lying on the floor and he also noticed there were severe strangulation indentions on both sides of Down’s neck.
At 10:50 a.m. Stewart received a call that there was an attempted suicide and arrived at the jail at 10:50 a.m.
Stewart went with the ambulance and attempted CPR on Downs until they arrived at Twin Lakes Regional Medical Service, where she was pronounced dead by Grayson County Coroner Joe Brad Hudson.
Attorney for the Downs family, Dwight Preston of Lewis and Preston said in an interview Friday, that the case was filed in federal court in Owensboro because it is their position that various constitutional rights in addition to state rights were violated in this case so it was required to be filed in federal court.
“This will be tried in Owensboro if the case is not resolved,” said Preston. ”We always look for a resolution because a trial is so stressful on everyone. This case is about the three-year-old Angela left behind and we do hope to get some answers to some questions in obtaining compensation for the child.”
Carol Petitt, the attorney who is representing all of the defendants in this case said they anticipated moving forward with a motion to dismiss this case in the near future.
“The Grayson County Detention Centers denies any wrong doing this case,” said Petitt. “This case was investigated by the state police and no criminal charges were brought.”
Petitt added that federal court requires a settlement hearing before any case goes to trial.
The Downs are asking for $2.5 million plus funeral costs to be awarded.
One million is for loss of Angela’s future earnings, $8,426 for funeral expense, $500,00 for loss of consortium, $500,000 for pain and suffering and $500,000 in punitive damages.
No court date has been filed at this time.