A federal judge dismissed a case brought against staff of the Pulaski County Detention Center (PCDC) by a former inmate who alleged excessive force, stating that there was no evidence to support the inmate’s claim that staff should have recognized he was suffering from a medical condition.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Wier dismissed the case filed by Jason Edward Sears.
Sears filed the lawsuit against Pulaski County government, CorHealth Solutions LLC; PCDC employees Sergeant Raymond Bates II, Deputy James E. Pitman II, Deputy Lila Coffman, Deputy Christopher Keeney, Sgt. James E. Pitman, Amy Parsons, Major Ron Swartz and (former) Jailor David Moss.
The suit alleged that while being detained at PCDC around September 10, 2017, Sears was subjected to excessive force, false imprisonment, assault and battery, and various violations of his civil rights.
Sears stated that he received several injuries from jailers, and that jail supervisors and nursing staff provided by CorHealth Solutions did not intervene to prevent those injuries.
Sears said he was suffering from epileptic episodes, and that staff failed to recognize that was the reason behind his aggressive behavior.
Sears was brought to PCDC after being arrested on charges of Menacing, Resisting Arrest, third-degree Criminal mischief, second-degree Disorderly Conduct and Failure to Notify an Owner of an Unattended Vehicle of Damage.
Sears arrest came after law enforcement was called to the north McDonald’s location when Sears, driving a 2003 Ford Windstar, struck a Chevrolet pickup.
Somerset Police officers arrested him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
While in PCDC custody, Sears stated he suffered two seizures. During those episodes, he alleges he was injured with unnecessary force when the staff should have recognized he was suffering from a medical condition.
During one instance, Sears alleges he suffered a “partial complex seizure” in the shower, which resulted in Sears being pepper sprayed by Dept. Jailer Pitman, who also allegedly kicked him in the back of the knee to subdue him. An attempt by Sgt. Bates to restrain him resulted in Bates “throat punching” Sears.
Bates stated his hand slipped due to Sears’ body being slippery with water and soap.
In a separate incident, while Sears was in a holding cell, deputies Pitman, Keeney, Coffman and Nurse Parsons attempted to escort Sears out of the cell.
According to court documents, Sears began resisting the officers and was place in handcuffs and, ultimately, in a restraining chair.
In Judge Wier’s analysis of the case, he said, “At no time, during either incident, did Sears tell officers that he suffered a recent seizure, that he is epileptic, or that he was on seizure medication. Sears did not wear a medical bracelet or necklace with this information. There is no record proof that Sears advised any PCDC personnel at any relevant point that he suffers from epilepsy or required seizure medication.”
Because of that, the judge rejected Sears’ assertion that jail staff should have recognized his medical condition and that the force used against him would, therefore, be excessive.
Furthermore, the judge noted that video of the incidents show that Sears was being uncooperative and was actively resisting the commands of officers, and the techniques used by jail staff were within the bounds of their training, or “objectively reasonable.”
Wier also notes that Sears could not say who caused which of his injuries. On Sears own account, he did not sustain any permanent injuries from his time in jail, and that they healed within three to four days.