This story originally appeared in the Feb. 3 issue of the Community Voice. For your own subscription, call 270-384-9454.
A lawsuit filed against county officials, former jailer Joey White and several jail employees following the November 2020 death of a jail inmate has been moved to federal court.
Skylor Turner died Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020 while being housed in the conference room at the jail. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of Patrick Turner, Skylor Turner’s father and administrator of his estate; and Natalie Moore, the mother of Skylor Turner’s child.
The lawsuit names former jailer Joey White, County Judge Executive Gale Cowan, the county’s seven magistrates, and multiple employees of the jail, all of whom are being sued individually and in their official capacity.
The case has been removed from Adair Circuit Court and has now been filed in U.S. District Court in the western district located in Bowling Green.
Two separate law firms represent the defendants in the case. English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP, a firm in Bowling Green, represents White and jail employees.
Vaughn Petitt Legal Group, PLLC, in Pewee Valley, represents Cowan and members of the fiscal court.
Carroll and Turner, PSC, in Monticello, and Cooper and Friedman, PLLC, of Louisville, represent the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit was moved to federal court following a request by the defendants. Aaron Smith, an attorney with English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, said the civil suit was moved because of the type of allegations made by the plaintiffs.
“The plaintiffs made allegations of constitutional violations against the defendants, and specifically violations against the United States Constitution,” he said. “That creates juris- diction for the case in the federal court where those matters are routinely handled.”
The primary accusations in the case are a violation of civil rights and wrong death.
According to the lawsuit, Turner was housed with another inmate from 6:52 a.m. on Nov. 11 until 12:34 p.m. He was left alone without communication from any jail staff from 4:03 p.m. until he was found dead the following morning at 3:11 a.m.
The defendants kept Turner in a room not designed to house prisoners and not safe for prisoners, then left him without communication, the lawsuit alleges. In addition, they should have known that Turner suffered from a serious medical/mental health condition and should have known the risk of not providing him with the help he needed.
A video recording of Turner shows him becoming agitated and, around 4:40 p.m., moving tables and chairs into a corner that was no longer visible by the camera. A few minutes later, he stares at the door, then craws under a table and disappears from sight.
There is no more activity until a female deputy walks in at 3:12 a.m. the following morning – nine hours later – to bring a food tray and finds his body.
An electrical cord around 20-25 ft. long was in the room along with an old tv shelf mounted on the wall. Turner wrapped the cord around his neck and attached it to the metal tv mount.
The lawsuit alleges that employees of the jail not only failed to protect Turner but were a substantial factor in causing his death and in causing him severe emotional distress. Former Jailer White is accused of not providing proper training. In addition, the lawsuit alleges fault by the fiscal court because White “had been requesting funding from the Adair County Fiscal Court so that he could maintain a safe jail but without such funding he could not operate a safe jail.”
The court is also accused of operating the jail without adequate personnel to supervise inmates, housing them in inadequate facilities and a facility that was extremely overcrowded.