This story first appeared in the Dec. 16 issue of the Community Voice. For the latest in local news and sports, call 270-384-9454 for a subscription.
The family of an inmate who died at the regional jail last year from suicide has filed a lawsuit over the incident.
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.
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 brother and administrator of his estate, and Natalie Moore, the mother of Skylor Turner’s child.
The lawsuit alleges that administrative regulations were violated the led to negligence and the “intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress.” It also seeks damages for “wrongful 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 fol- lowing 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, after yelling and kicking his bed, he stares at the door, then crawls 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 to bring a food tray. “…a deputy walks in and sets a food tray on the table, starts to walk away but instead walks back to the table and then pulls the table and chair away.
“Thereupon, Skylor Turner was observed for the first time in 9 hours on the floor dead having been abandoned by the Defendants,” states a document filed in Adair Circuit Court.
An electrical cord around 20-25 ft. long was in the room along with an old tv shelf mounted on the wall. Neither served a purpose, the plaintiff alleges. 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 also responsible for 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.
The lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of Turner’s family by Thomas Carroll, an attorney with Carroll and Turner, PSC, in Monticello.
By Sharon Burton