The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office has been sued in a wrongful-death suit relating to the July 2004 death of Marvis Gail Davidson in the Buncombe County Detention Facility. The death happened while current Sheriff Van Duncan‘s predecessor, Bobby Medford (now convicted on federal corruption charges), was in office.
The lawsuit, filed on Aug. 8 by April Nicole Welch, the administrator of Davidson’s estate, alleges that after her arrest, Davidson was repeatedly denied medical care for conditions related to diabetes, which jail officials were aware she had from when she had previously been incarcerated.
“As her condition deteriorated and the associated pain grew to intolerable levels — particularly in the days immediately preceding her death — Ms. Davidson and fellow inmates of her cell repeatedly beseeched detention officers monitoring Ms. Davidson,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that “detention officers ignored Ms. Davidson’s continuous cries for help even as she lay writhing and screaming on the floor in pain.” The lawsuit accuses the Sheriff’s Office of manifesting “a heedless indifference to, or reckless disregard of, Ms. Davidson’s safety and well-being.”
The autopsy report revealed that Davidson died of a condition know as “dead gut,” which is sometimes related to diabetes. In 2005, a jail employee filed complaints about Davidson’s treatment.
The lawsuit seeks a trial by jury and at least $30,000 in damages plus the attorney and court costs. It names Duncan, in his official capacity only, and his office. It also targets the South Dakota-based Western Surety Company, the office’s bond company.
Lt. Ross Dillingham, the office’s public-affairs officer, said he had no comment on how the office is going to respond to the lawsuit and emphasized that the incident took place under the previous administration.
“Sheriff Duncan in no way had any affiliation with the office then, or any control over what happened in the jail in 2004,” Dillingham told Xpress.
— David Forbes, staff writer