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NC Sheriff Sued Over Death of Inmate

The family of a Wake County inmate who died of a drug overdose filed a lawsuit against the sheriff, alleging negligence and more.

News & Observer of Raleigh reports that the family of Ralph Madison Stockton IV, who was 19 years old when he died, is suing Sheriff Donnie Harrison for wrongful death along with Wake County and 16 county employees who work at the county jail where Stockton died Nov. 6, 2011.

Stockton was the grandson and namesake of prominent Winston-Salem lawyer Ralph Madison Stockton, Jr. According to the News & Observer, the young Stockton had been brought into the prison the night of Nov. 5, 2011, when a convenience store clerk alerted police to his odd behavior that seemed to indicate impairment. When police pulled Stockton over, the 19-year-old swallowed several pills as the deputy was searching the trunk of the car.

Prison records indicate that Stockton admitted to having a drug problem once he was brought in. According to an internal investigation, several prison staff and law enforcement noticed his erratic behavior and some believed he was on drugs. His mother, Tanya Stockton, also says that she repeatedly contacted the jail to tell them about his drug problem, reports the News & Observer.

According to state regulations, all inmates must be checked at least twice every hour. That requirement increases to four times each hour when there is a suspicion of impairment. However, an investigation by state health officials determined that Stockton, who had been given a mat on the floor of the overcrowded jail to sleep on, was not monitored at even the minimum standard.

According to the lawsuit, other inmates told jail officers that Stockton had admitted to taking drugs before entering the prison and that he seemed to have trouble breathing, but their concerns were dismissed. The lawsuit also indicates that since 2010, there have been several cases at the Wake County jail where inmates were injured or died due to poor monitoring and poor staff training.

If you or a loved one are considering a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit, our dedicated Raleigh attorneys may be able to help you. Contact Kelly & West today to discuss the details of your case.

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