Attorneys allege the Orangeburg County Detention Center, the Regional Medical Center and a list of medical care providers were negligent when James Ray Parker died in the jail.
In a complaint filed in the Orangeburg County Courthouse last week, attorneys said that while Parker was jailed from Jan. 26 until Feb. 6 he “was in such obvious mental and physical distress at the Orangeburg County Detention Center that correctional officers had to initially drag him on a sheet across the floor to an isolation cell.
“This transfer was witnessed by numerous detainees located within the unit.”
Parker died on Feb. 6, 2013. An autopsy determined the 38-year-old Neeses resident died of natural cardiac problems.
Attorneys Carter Elliott Jr. and Clyde Dean Jr. are representing Parker’s estate in the lawsuit. The attorneys say Parker weighed 470 pounds and a necropsy indicated he had an irregular heartbeat, fluid in his lungs and an enlarged heart, liver and spleen.
“For approximately 10 days, Parker laid naked on the floor, without a bed, in one position. Over the following days, Parker never moved from this position and did not eat or consume (any) meals or fluids,” the complaint claims. Parker “continuously cried out for help to the correctional and/or nursing staff” on Feb. 6, 2013.
The crying stopped at 2:30 a.m.
A corrections officer discovered he was unresponsive around 3:45 a.m.
The complaint states that “Parker had been dead for hours when EMS arrived at 4:13 a.m.” and that he had “rigor mortis upon EMS arrival.”
Prior to Parker’s arrival at the Orangeburg County Detention Center, he was accused of assaulting his sister by “pulling her hair and hitting her with his hands” on Jan. 24, 2013, according to a Sheriff’s Office incident report.
His sister said she did not want to press charges but to have her brother receive mental health care.
A little later that day, Parker was walking down Ninety Six Road toward Savannah Highway when he saw his brother driving toward him.
Parker allegedly walked into the vehicle’s path and was struck on the left arm, suffering lacerations and contusions.
In the months prior to Parker’s death, he was treated at the Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Room and the Rose Centre for medical and mental health problems.
During Parker’s visits to RMC and the Rose Centre, attorneys allege that physicians didn’t give him proper medical care or discharged him before he was mentally stable.
In one visit to RMC, Parker, who was restrained, “continued to try and assault staff, and came very close to turning over the hospital bed” on Jan. 17, 2013, the complaint claims. One week later, a doctor admitted Parker to the Rose Centre and within about 24 hours, Parker “destroyed a bookcase and a door inside of his assigned (room).”
The lawsuit alleges officials were negligent in handling Parker. It also accuses the defendants of wrongful death.
Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young and RMC spokeswoman Jane Carson said they could not comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit concerning Parker is at least the third filed this year involving the death of an inmate at the Orangeburg County Detention Center.
By the end of 2013, a total of seven inmates died at the detention center over the course of a little more than a year and a half. Three of the deaths were suicides.
In January, the widow of Nathaniel Paul Hearn sued, claiming the 37-year-old man’s jail suicide could have been prevented.
In April, the family of 50-year-old Tony Glenn Tyler alleged that he had medical problems, but that he wasn’t provided the proper medical and mental health care he needed.
During the past year, a number of changes have been made at the jail. The most recent is that health services are now provided by Southern Health Partners of Nashville, Tenn. Inmates have access to a nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Southern Health Partner is also providing additional access to mental health services.