Dallas Attorney Sues Coleman County in San Angelo Federal Court Over Inmate SuicidePress Release
COLEMAN, TX -- (Press Release) A Dallas personal injury lawyer has filed a federal lawsuit in San Angelo Friday against Coleman County over the suicide of an inmate held in the Coleman County Jail.
According to a News Release from the Law Offices of Dean Malone, Derrek Monroe was arrested and incarcerated in the Coleman County Jail on September 29, 2017. The jail had clear, unmistakable notice that Derrek would kill himself if provided an opportunity. When Monroe was asked whether he was thinking of killing himself that day, he responded that he wished had a way to do it. Monroe told a jailer that he had attempted suicide two weeks before, that he had received services for emotional and mental health problems through MHMR Coleman, and that he had previously been in a hospital for emotional/mental health problems. The jail intake form contained other information about Monroe’s mental health issues.
Constitutional rights lawyer Dean Malone filed suit in federal court in San Angelo on Friday, April 13, 2018. Mr. Malone said, “Derrek’s death was completely avoidable. Coleman County’s policy of staffing the jail with only one jailer, when it has a known suicidal inmate, is beyond belief. The problem is made worse by Coleman County not even allowing that one jailer to intervene in a suicide attempt. A person suffers brain damage very quickly during hanging, and jails must be prepared to intervene. Derrek’s family hopes that this lawsuit will be a wake-up call to other jails around the country.”
According to Malone, Monroe attempted to commit suicide by hanging the following day. Even so, the jail did little to keep Derrek from attempting to hang himself again. The jail put Derrek into a cell that contained a phone with a lengthy cord, and the County decided to have only one jailer on duty to watch Monroe and at least one other prisoner in a different cell.
The next day, Monroe attempted to commit suicide again. He was the only person in his cell. Not surprisingly, he hung himself using the lengthy telephone cord in his jail cell. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards had notified all Texas county sheriffs and jail administrators – a little over two years before - that jail cell phone cords need to be very short due to 4 inmate suicides, using phone cords, in just the prior year.
Malone says Monroe was successful in his second suicide attempt. Malone says a jailer watched as Monroe wrapped the phone cord around his neck, leaned into the taut phone cord, and became lifeless over the next several minutes. The jailer, who had the cell door key in his pocket, opened the cell door only after about 10 minutes had passed. He opened the door only after the jail administrator arrived.
Malone says Monroe suffered brain damage and died in a hospital the next day. The jailer later wrote in his statement that he did not enter the cell because of his training. Coleman County policy would not allow a jailer to help an inmate committing suicide until someone else arrived. That policy, and the County’s choice to staff with only one jailer, resulted in Monroe’s death.