Sheriff’s office sued in wrongful-death lawsuit

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



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8 thoughts on “Sheriff’s office sued in wrongful-death lawsuit

  1. LOKEL

    Why not include the County in this suit as well…. it seems they (the County) are more culpable than Duncan.

  2. david goliath

    Which out-of-town lawyer did Ms. Welch retain? There is potential for a class-action suit with these steroid abusers.

    Sadists. The Sheriff’s department hires sadists. It is time for a major house cleaning. Bobby was the tip of the iceberg. They are due.

  3. david goliath

    You have to hire an out of town lawyer because Buncombe is a rat’s nest of good old boys. Flip a coin…. is it the sheriff’s here who are the biggest problem or is it the DA and all their shell games? The DA should have cleaned up that department a long time ago but the two do mi$carriages of ju$tice jointly.

    I have seen DA”s arrested in other parts of the country. Should be exciting. Much more interesting than old Bobby. I am rather surprised with all that goes on here that there aren’t plenty of investigative people from Raleigh looking with a magnifying glass at the Sheriff’s as well as APD.

    Maybe they are? It sure would be reassuring to know that SOMETHING is being fixed. The jail is a major cesspool and the citizens who pay for its upkeep should be enraged. Human rights? Forget about it. It is one of those freedoms we are fighting for but do not have.

  4. david goliath

    Booty: if an officer of theirs, or APD, is drug tested you cannot get the results unless you go through Congress. When violence, excessive violence, is in question we have a right to those results and they have an obligation to provide them for our perusal and the public safety. Only with the assistance of the DA are they able to break the law.

    Are you a sheriff/the Sheriff booty? I understand sheriff’s take injections in the booty of vitamin b-12 as well as steroids to achieve that intimidating look they strive for. These are rumors to be sure (from a former disgruntled sheriff) but I understand that some of the bigger officers inject each other in the booty. Remember the Woodfin police and the diaper parties of a few years back and then tell me we do not need closer, much closer, supervision of these thugs.

    Woodfin police are pulling cars in downtown Asheville. They must be sheriff’s as well as Woodfin police. I hope the taxpayers of Woodfin are aware of this. They are not very nice police officers.

    You must read the papers so how could one ask such an inane question? Do you believe that because Medford left that everything is now OK? Naieve. Once you start breaking the rules it will spiral out of control if there are no checks and balances. I suggest it be fixed ASAP.

  5. cwaster

    I’m aware of someone who had a massive asthma attack while being held and was ignored when asking for help. Asthma can kill you…

    You could find yourself arrested for something you didn’t (or did) do, and die in there apparently. That’s not so good.

  6. Nick from Avvo

    It’s a shame, but I often wonder how prison officers sort the legitimate from the fake claims.

    They’re between a rock and a hard place…if they never want something like this to happen again, they have to have a policy where you must give attention to people complaining of heath problems. But if the prisoners know you can’t ignore them, they’ll take advantage of you.

    Sad case, but I don’t blame the family for looking to find a lawyer. This is the type of thing that’s very hard to justify in retrospect, especially if they already knew she had diabetes.

  7. Candice Blakeslee

    If you have any information regarding the incarcertaion or death of Marvis Davidson, please contact me at (828) 281-2100 or

    Candice Blakeslee
    Paralegal to Attorney Philip Roth

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