An internal investigation conducted by Faulkner County Detention Center Maj. John Randall following the November 2017 death of an inmate shows jail staff did not follow protocol.
An internal affairs report written by Randall following the investigation points out a number of instances where protocol and policy was broken.
The investigation was conducted after inmate Linda S. Warner, 59, of Greenbrier was pronounced dead at Baptist Health Medical Center in Conway on Nov. 23, 2017. Warner had been in the FCDC's custody following an Oct. 30, 2017, arrest after she allegedly violated a no contact order.
Baptist Health medical staff diagnosed Warner with severe sepsis with septic shock, diabetic ketoacidosis, upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage, acute kidney failure and rhabdomyolysis, noting her blood sugar “was greater than 600” when she was admitted into the emergency room shortly before midnight Nov. 22.
Online records show an autopsy later found “Warner died of Sepsis due to Purulent Peritonitis due to Ruptured Appendicitis” and that she also “had purulent adhesions and purulent yellow fluid in all quadrants of her abdomen,” according to the complaint filed by attorney Jessica Virden-Mallett, who represents Warner’s family in this suit.
In his findings, Randall noted detention staff failed to conduct proper cell checks nine out of 10 times.
Online records show he also determined a detention sergeant gave false policy information to other officers, referring to an incident where jailers were specifically instructed not to use a wheelchair to help Warner back to her cell after she fell in the floor after being denied assistance by the jail's onsite doctor.
Virden-Mallett, who filed a complaint in Faulkner County Circuit Court regarding the allegations against the sheriff's office on Warner's daughter's behalf, noted in previously filed documents that Dr. Gary Stewart, the jail's onsite doctor, denied helping Warner because she would not answer his questions. He reportedly asked her if she could speak English and accused Warner of refusing treatment. Virden-Mallett also noted other jail staff knew Warner was having difficulty standing and walking on her own and that Warner was in a great deal of pain in the moments leading up to her fall.
"After Ms. Warner was forced to leave sick call, she collapsed in the hallway," the complaint reads in part. "Her condition was relayed to Dr. Stewart and Nurse Munyan, who ignored the distress Ms. Warner was in."
This notation in the recently-filed complaint against the county jail is followed by a graphic explanation of an alleged lack of response by jail staff after Warner fell in the hallway, and includes an example of staff being instructed not to use a wheelchair to help Warner.
“Defendant Spivey told the other defendants it was against the rules to use a wheelchair or mat to move Ms. Warner. The Defendants then dragged an unconscious Ms. Warner back to her cell,” the complaint states. “During the shift change, Defendant Lisembey-Hall asked Defendant Teniesha Jernigan to go with him to check on Ms. Warner. When they got back to Ms. Warner’s cell, they found Ms. Warner on the floor an unresponsive.”
According the internal investigation's findings, detention staff failed to follow FCDC's emergency health care policy.
"Corporal Anita Wright failed to follow the Use of Force and Emergency Health Care policy ... No employee called for medical assistance during this time," according to the internal affairs report.
After reviewing video footage, Randall noted it appeared Warner's apparent inability to propertly maneuver herself showed her health was deteriorating and that Dr. Stewart should not have turned her away from sick call.
"When Ms. Warner left the sick call area she was walking much more slowly and she was obviously weaker," according to the investigation findings. "She leaned against the wall to rest several times and then fell before reaching her housing area. She was dragged back to her cell by several CO's who left her slumped over on the floor. ... From this time onward, Ms. Warner never stood or sat upright again. She was visibly much less responsive and weaker for the rest of the day."
The investigative notes also state Warner was unable to hold her own head up when she was taken back to her bunk on Nov. 21 and that at one point, other female inmates helped her back into her bed. She didn't move in her bunk much during the night prior to paramedics being called to the jail and staff members reportedly did not check on her throughout the night.
"I noted some movement of Ms. Warner's left arm throughout the night [on Nov. 21]," Randall wrote in his findings. "No security staff are seen on camera entering her room overnight. Movement stops about 7:44 a.m. on the morning of [Nov. 22]."
While video footage showed Warner stopped moving around 7:44 a.m. Nov. 22, jail staff did not check on her until 10:20 a.m.
"No staff is seen entering her cell until a CO and Nurse Munyan enter at 10:20 a.m. on 11/22/2017," the report reads in part. "They leave her cell at 10:28 a.m. after apparently attempting to check vital signs and glucose [levels]. No one enters he cell again until first responders arrive at 10:58 a.m. and begin resuscitation."
Christine Turner, one of Warner's children, has requested a jury trial be set regarding the wrongful death and negligence claims made against the sheriff's office.
In the course of gathering evidence against jail staff, Turner has had an expert witness to review the case file she has created following her mother's November 2017 death.
The plaintiff's in this wrongful death suit have sought Thomas D. Fowlkes's opinion on the matter. Fowlkes specializes in correctional healthcare and addiction medicine and also, among several other titles, is the medical director at Lafayette County Detention Center — a 140-bed jail facility in Oxford, Mississippi — and director of Professional & Medical Relations/Addiction Physician for American Addiction Centers at the Oxford Treatment Center.
No hearings had been formally scheduled regarding this matter by press time Tuesday.
The Log Cabin Democrat will follow up with detention center policies regarding the claims made against the facility and also continue following this case throughout the proceedings held in Faulkner County Circuit Court.