Officers in a North Carolina jail beat, kicked and hogtied a mentally ill man before he had a heart attack and died, the family says in a federal lawsuit.
Police arrested Graydon Jerome Parker III, then 54, after he broke a truck window and told authorities “he did it ‘because God told me to,’” according to the lawsuit filed by Parker’s mother this week.
The man “was in an acute manic state and experiencing a psychiatric emergency” when he got to the jail May 20, 2017, the lawsuit says, but jailers in the Wayne County Detention Center in Goldsboro, North Carolina did not call for a psychological evaluation.
“Instead, Mr. Parker was sprayed multiple times with Oleoresin-Capsicum (OC) spray, stripped naked, and placed in a small (6’ x 7’) segregation cell with only a toilet/hole on the floor for nine hours. Mr. Parker’s manic symptoms progressed and his mental state deteriorated throughout his detention due to the lack of any medical care,” according to the court filing in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Deputies took Parker out to the showers after he smeared feces on the cell, the lawsuit says.
The jailers “extensively sprayed” Parker with hot water and pepper spray, the lawsuit says.
“When he became upset in the shower,” it continues, “Mr. Parker was thrown to the floor and repeatedly kicked, stomped, and punched.”
The officers hogtied Parker and shocked him with a stun gun, according to the lawsuit. Minutes later, the lawsuit says, the officers “realized that Mr. Parker was turning blue and not breathing.”
Parker had a heart attack, the lawsuit says, and deputies called an ambulance to take him to the hospital, where he died the next afternoon.
“The EMTs found Mr. Parker in cardiac arrest, unresponsive, and without a pulse. Parker was hogtied with the handcuffs and leg shackles hooked together behind his back,” the lawsuit says.
An autopsy conducted just after Parker died called the death a homicide, according to the Goldsboro News-Argus.
“District Attorney Matthew Delbridge said, in an email sent to the News-Argus in October 2017, that ‘The word homicide as used in this context is a term of art and does not necessarily equate to an unlawful act,’” the newspaper reported.
Margaret Jean Kelly, Parker’s mother, filed the suit for her son’s estate against Wayne County, Wayne County Sheriff Lawrence Pierce, nine detention center deputies, a state trooper and an unnamed nurse.
The family sued on several counts, including excessive force and deliberate indifference to Parker’s medical condition.
“Through a spokesman, neither Wayne County nor the sheriff had any comment saying this is a pending lawsuit,” according to WITN.
The Associated Press reported, “County attorney Andrew Neal wasn’t immediately available for comment on Thursday.”