Suit filed following inmate's suicide

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A father whose son committed suicide while in a southern Indiana jail has filed a lawsuit against the county and its sheriff.

Lester E. Tipton Sr., who is the personal representative of the estate his son, Lester E. Tipton Jr., filed the suit last week against Lawrence County and Sam Craig, in his official capacity as sheriff of Lawrence County. Tipton Jr. was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated October 4, 2008, and booked into the Lawrence County Jail. No one asked any mental health or medical questions during intake and Tipton Jr. later told sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers he was going to kill himself. No one acted on the threat and he killed himself that same day.

The suit alleges that the sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers were deliberately indifferent to his need for increased monitoring or health screening, and at the time of his death, the jail was overcrowded. Because of the overcrowding, the officials couldn’t properly monitor Tipton Jr.

The suit claims Tipton Jr. was deprived of his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and 14th amendments of the federal Constitution, and under Article 1, Sections 11, 15, 16, and 21 of the Indiana Constitution.

The suit, Lester E. Tipton Sr. v. Lawrence County, et al., No. 4:10-CR-120, seeks compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and costs, and any other proper relief.


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