The daughter of a man who died in custody at the Jackson County Detention Center in 2014 alleges in a lawsuit that her father’s death was due to jail guards’ use of excessive force.
Holly Miller’s wrongful-death lawsuit was transferred Friday from county circuit court to U.S. District Court in Kansas City. In addition to the county, two unnamed corrections officers are listed as defendants.
The lawsuit comes nine months after county officials acknowledged the existence of an FBI investigation to determine whether a pattern of abuse existed at the downtown Kansas City jail. In July, a former guard was indicted on civil rights charges for allegedly kicking a restrained inmate in the head in 2011. His case is pending.
When the FBI probe was announced in late August, county officials said they, too, were investigating reports of abuse, including several incidents in 2015 in which guards allegedly used excessive force to restrain inmates.
The county also appointed a committee to make recommendations on guard pay and working conditions.
None of the alleged cases of abuse that came to light last year was said to have resulted in death. And no other criminal charges have been filed.
In her lawsuit, Miller, of Overland Park, alleges that her father, John Fletcher Miller III, suffered a heart attack and died on Sept. 1, 2014, when two corrections officers attempted to put him in a restraint chair.
The suit contends that Miller was jailed on Aug. 28 “in an obvious state of intoxication” and over the next four days he exhibited “clear signs of alcohol withdrawal.”
When a nurse told guards that, they ignored the information, the suit said, and misinterpreted his symptoms as “aggressive acts.” Miller was pronounced dead at Truman Medical Center shortly after guards attempted to put him in a restraint chair.
A spokesman for Jackson County said the county normally does not comment on pending litigation and would not on this case.