CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – The father of a J. Reuben Long Detention Center inmate who died in 2015 has filed a lawsuit against the city of Myrtle Beach and other defendants.
According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday, the Myrtle Beach Police Department; the Horry County Sheriff's Office; the Horry County Detention Center; Southern Health Partners, Inc., which is contracted by the detention center; and Dr. Charles A. Bush, who was the jail's physician at the time, are the five additional defendants.
The plaintiff, Titus Leroy Walker, alleges the six were culpable in the death of his son, 60-year-old Jerome Floyd, who was found not breathing while incarcerated at J. Reuben Long on Aug. 20, 2015.
Floyd was pronounced dead at the Conway Medical Center shortly thereafter.
According to the lawsuit, Floyd was arrested by MBPD officers on Aug. 18, 2015 for public intoxication. A medical screening history form filled out stated the man had a history of type-2 diabetes, epilepsy and high blood pressure, and was under a physician's care for HIV.
At the time of his arrest, Floyd was intoxicated and smelled heavily of alcohol, and law enforcement made no attempts to have him evaluated or placed into observation for possible detox before transporting him to J. Reuben Long, the lawsuit stated.
He was booked at 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 19.
"During the intake process, it was determined by the detention and medical staff that the decedent suffered from and/or had a medical history of diabetes and high blood pressure – both of which he took medications for," according to the lawsuit. "The initial book medical screening goes on to indicate that the decedent appeared dazed; however, there is no indication that Mr. Floyd was placed under observation and/or immediately seen by medical."
At 5:03 p.m., Floyd was seen by medical staff as a follow-up to the intake screening. Vitals taken showed his blood sugar level was over 300 and his blood pressure reading was 144 over 84, the lawsuit stated.
It was alleged that security staff ignored the medical staff's recommendation to place the prisoner in the infirmary so his blood pressure and blood sugar levels could be closely monitored.
"During this time, the decedent was never seen or examined by a physician," the lawsuit stated. "The failure of the jail and nursing staff to communicate with a physician was a gross deviation in the acceptable standard of care."
Floyd was then reportedly put into a B3-Pod, which is in the special needs unit, according to court documents. He allegedly received no medical care after his placement.
Around 3:51 p.m. on Aug. 20, Floyd was found in his cell appearing to not be breathing. CPR was started and EMS was called to take him to the Conway Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at 5:01 p.m., according to the lawsuit.
"Based on the decedent's medical history of diabetes, hypertension, and HIV, as well as the fact that he was extremely intoxicated on arrest in addition to his uncontrolled blood sugars – this likely put more stress on the decedent's vital organs (and in particular, his heart), which more likely than not contributed to his ultimate death," court documents stated. "Additionally, it is more likely than not that had the (decedent) been properly diagnoses, assessed and monitored by the jail and medical staff at the detention center – his death would have been prevented."
A jury trial has been requested in this case. The plaintiff is asking for damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
"This man was somebody who probably never should have been taken to jail," said Carter Elliott, Jr., the attorney representing Floyd's father in the lawsuit. "He should have been taken to the hospital before. I think it was easy to see that he needed assistance. He was in bad shape."
Mark Kruea, spokesperson for Myrtle Beach, said the city does not comment on pending litigation.