Family of Man Who Died in Jail Sues Natrona County for $1 Million
The family of a Casper man who committed suicide in the Natrona County jail is seeking $1 million in damages against the county, the sheriff’s office and others for negligent behavior that lead to his death, the family’s attorney said Thursday.
“The gist of the lawsuit is that from the time that he (Larry Turner Jr.) went into the jail, approximately 7 p.m. on the day before he died, he was completely ignored by jail staffs contrary to very clear policies and procedures of the jail,” Cheyenne lawyer Tim Kingston said.
“In other words, it wasn’t like one mistake that they made over that 24-hour period,” he said. “It just was over and over and over again the same kind of problem that I believe contributed to his death.”
Turner was 32 and an aspiring rapper in Casper’s rap scene, who had been charged with vehicular homicide, after a car crash that killed a friend of his in October 2011.
He was arrested for violating his probation on March 23, 2012.
Turner was booked into the jail, went through the intake process, was placed in the general inmate population, and was last seen at 8:07 p.m. that night.
No jail officials saw him until the following afternoon.
By then, he had written a suicide note on the table in his cell and was found dead from a drug overdose, according to the government claim Kingston filed on May 16, 2013, and the complaint filed in Natrona County District Court on April 17, 2014.
According to court documents, the nurse who conducted the health intake assessment did a poor job of evaluating Turner’s police contacts, history of alcohol and drug use, medical history, social stress experiences, criminal history, history of suicidal behavior, behavioral symptoms, signs of severe mental illness, and other matters.
Court documents also state sheriff’s deputies did not monitor Turner according to jail policies and procedures.
The family claims the county and other defendants violated Turner’s 14th Amendment rights and acted negligently when he was in their custody, according to the complaint.
The family — Turner’s parents, and the woman who is the mother of Turner’s daughter — are seeking $1 million in damages and a trial by jury.
Kingston said he met with county officials in the past year, but they were unable to reach a settlement.
Natrona County Attorney Bill Knight said the county has not been served with the lawsuit as of Thursday and declined to comment.
Kingston hopes the dispute can be resolved without going to trial.
“We’re hope to resolve this case,” Kingston said. “I think the liability is clear. The question is, is the county willing to address the case.”