Jackson County will pay $150,000 to settle the wrongful death claim filed by the family of a man who died of a drug overdose after being placed in a restraint chair last summer at the Jackson County Detention Center.
Richard Degraffenreid, 35, was arrested on a parole violation July 20 and, according to county officials, became combative after he was booked into the downtown Kansas City jail shortly before midnight.
To keep him from hurting himself and others, officials said, he was placed into a restraint chair and checked on periodically. Two and half hours later, he was found in the chair unresponsive and pronounced dead early July 21 at Truman Medical Center.
The county legislature approved the settlement without comment at the end of its regular weekly meeting Monday.
The resolution approving the settlement to Degraffenreid’s heirs and their attorney, John Picerno, acknowledged no wrongdoing on the part of the county, which is typical in these matters.
Picerno said he could not comment on the settlement until after it is finalized. County settlements usually contain a non-disclosure agreement that does not allow those receiving the settlement to comment on the case publicly.
But Picerno said details of what occurred at the jail will come out in an upcoming lawsuit he plans to file against the detention center’s health care provider, Correct Care Solutions.
He said the nurse mistook a health emergency that Degraffenreid was experiencing for a disciplinary problem.
The Jackson County Medical Examiner ruled his death an accident, attributing it to “multiple drug ... intoxication” from cocaine and methamphetamine.
On the day of her son’s death, Degraffenreid’s mother, Ruth Garrison, said Degraffenreid had no previous medical issues.
“Even though he was in trouble, my son was a good boy, a good man,” she said then. “He worked hard. I just want answers. I want to know what happened to my son.”
Degraffenreid was the second of two inmates who died in custody last year under circumstances that their family members found questionable.
In January 2017, 53-year-old ReGina Thurman died from an aortic dissection about an hour after complaining of chest pains, for which the only treatment she received were a couple of antacid tablets. Had she been taken to the hospital sooner, she might have survived, medical experts told The Star last spring.
No settlement has been reached in that case. In neither case was a lawsuit filed.