Government & Politics

Kansas City jailers failed to treat inmate who later died, suit says

Former Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte and Mayor Sly James (left) are among the defendants in a lawsuit filed by the mother of a man who she alleges received inadequate medical treatment while in police custody.
Former Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte and Mayor Sly James (left) are among the defendants in a lawsuit filed by the mother of a man who she alleges received inadequate medical treatment while in police custody. FRED BLOCHER/The Kansas City Sta

Feverish and in “obvious need for medical assistance,” Gary Gregory flopped on the floor of a Kansas City police station lockup with seizures and a high fever, but got no treatment for nearly an hour, according to a new lawsuit.

The 40-year-old Kansas City man’s death from complications of a drug overdose came four agonizing weeks later after multiple surgeries that at best would have left him in a nursing home the rest of his life, according to his family’s GoFundMe website.

Gregory’s mother, Kathy Rist of Independence, claims in the federal lawsuit filed Friday that her son’s jailers were “deliberately indifferent” when they failed to provide timely medical attention at a Kansas City police holding area two years ago.

The suit does not specify which one, but Rist said in an interview that it was not at the police department’s main holding area at the Jackson County Detention Center.

She said the holding area was near Research Medical Center, where her son was hospitalized until his death on July 13, 2015.

Metro and South patrol both have holding areas and are the closest to Research. A police spokeswoman said Friday afternoon that she would check which one it was on Monday.

Recently retired Police Chief Darryl Forté and Mayor Sly James are named as defendants, along with four other members of the Board of Police Commissioners who were serving at the time.

Rist asks for unspecified actual and punitive damages.

The Kansas City Police Department declined comment, citing a policy of not responding publicly to pending litigation.

According to the lawsuit, Gregory ingested methamphetamine during a June 13, 2015, police stop.

While in custody, the suit says, he breathed erratically, was feverish, had seizures and became unresponsive. The suit alleges that jail staff should have known he needed attention because they entered the holding area multiple times bringing in other prisoners. There were also video cameras that should have been monitored, the suit said.

Rist said her son turned blue at the police station and was transported to the hospital.

“It took them two hours to bring him back,” she said.

According to the fundraising page set up to cover medical expenses and care for his two daughters, Gregory had a temperature of 108 when he arrived at the hospital. He breathed with the help of a ventilator and received dialysis for his failing kidneys and liver.

Despite some improvement in the weeks afterward, his condition worsened and he died a month to the day after the overdose.

Mike Hendricks: 816-234-4738, @kcmikehendricks

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