Lawsuit filed after woman's death at Spartanburg Co. Detention C - FOX Carolina 21

Lawsuit filed after woman's death at Spartanburg Co. Detention Center

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(Source: Associated Press) (Source: Associated Press)

An attorney representing the estate of a woman who died at Spartanburg County Detention Center has filed suit against Spartanburg County, the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office, the Spartanburg County Detention Services Division and the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement led the investigation into the death of Elizabeth Ashley Harmon, who was found deceased in a cell at the Spartanburg County Detention Center on June 7, 2015.

SLED said Harmon was arrested on the day prior at a location in the 2000 block of Highway 9 after deputies received a domestic violence call. The lawsuit states Harmon caused a disturbance at a public restaurant before taking off her pants in the parking lot while resisting arrest. SLED said she later kicked out the back window of a patrol car.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday claims Harmon's husband advised deputies she was bipolar and had recently attempted suicide.

According to the SLED report, Harmon was asked to change her shirt to one provided by the county when booked into the detention center. She was checked on at approximately 11:45 p.m. and when she was checked on again at 11:58 p.m., a medical emergency was called out over the radio, SLED reports. Investigators said Harmon hanged herself in her cell using the shirt and a plumbing chase hinge.

The lawsuit claims Spartanburg County, the Sheriff's Office, and the Detention Services Division were negligent in failing to properly design a women's detention facility, retaining personnel unqualified to supervise mentally ill patents, failing to have a properly working automated external defibrillator (AED) and telephones, and failing to inspect the victim in a timely manner, among other complaints.

The SLED report indicates the deputy who received the radio call to call 911 tried three times on a phone which wouldn't successfully connect before using another phone to place the call.

During the medical emergency, the AED kept saying "please replaces pads," SLED said after an interview with one deputy on scene. The report states CPR was started when the machine malfunctioned and maintained until EMS arrived.

A spokesperson for the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office declined to comment on the case, as is protocol with pending litigation.

The lawsuit also claims South Carolina Department of Corrections is responsible for inspecting operations, fire safety and health and sanitation at the detention center and were negligent in inspections.

A spokesperson for SCDOC said their legal department has not been served with the lawsuit and therefore is unable to comment.

The wrongful death lawsuit is seeking attorneys fees and "other and further relief as this court deems just and proper."

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