Family of man who died by suicide in jail sues authorities

February 28, 2020 GMT

BROCKTON, Mass. (AP) — The family of a man who died by suicide while in custody at a Massachusetts jail filed an $8 million wrongful death lawsuit against the sheriff and the state.

The parents of William Lufkin III sued Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts last week, The Enterprise reported Wednesday.

His parents are seeking a jury trial and $8 million in damages, alleging McDonald’s conduct was negligent and there was “extreme emotional distress” to the family.

Lufkin, a lifelong Brockton resident, was found dead in his cell at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility in February 2017 after he was arrested by federal agents in connection to a kidnapping.

The 26-year-old had been arraigned in U.S. District Court the day of his arrest and transferred to the jail, where he was “placed on special status” as they categorized him as a prisoner on “mental health/suicide watch.”

He was found dead the day after he was admitted, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that when an inmate is placed on suicide watch, it is required for the detainee to be in a “controlled environment with elevated security attention and increased monitoring to maintain the safety and well being of the detainee.”

John Birtwell, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department, said the department has not yet been served with the lawsuit and could not comment specifically about it.