JUNEAU, Alaska — The family of an Alaska man who died while in custody at a Juneau jail has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state and staff responsible for his care.
The family’s suit claims Joseph Murphy, 49, was intoxicated in August 2015 and sought treatment for depression and suicidal thoughts when his ex-wife took him to an emergency room, KTOO-FM reported (http://bit.ly/2v0bhIA ).
Hospital staff determined Murphy needed to be monitored as a suicide risk, but a mental health evaluation could not be done because he was intoxicated, the family stated.
A Juneau police officer took him to the Lemon Creek Correctional Center for suicide monitoring, where the family claims a nurse and two staff members ignored Murphy’s requests for help with chest pain.
Murphy died in a cell about 12 hours after being admitted due to an apparent heart attack, according to the Alaska State Troopers’ activity log.
Murphy’s case was highlighted in a report produced after a three-month review of the state Department of Corrections. Dean Williams, then-special assistant to Gov. Bill Walker and current head of the corrections agency, called Murphy’s death an “incident gone wrong” and “unacceptable.”
In addition to the Department of Corrections, the lawsuit names a prison nurse and two corrections staff members as defendants.
The Lemon Creek Correctional Center is a multifunction lockup, serving as both an intake and a long-term facility.
Murphy’s family seeks damages in excess of $100,000, with the exact amount to be determined at trial. The state has until Aug. 8 to respond to the lawsuit.
Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org