Lexington police investigating death of Fayette County jail inmate

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comMay 23, 2012 

Jeffrey McKinney

Lexington police are investigating the death Tuesday of a 37-year-old Fayette County jail inmate who, according to his sister, had a history of seizures.

The cause of death of the inmate, Jeffrey McKinney of Frankfort, is pending autopsy results, Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn said.

The fire department took McKinney from the Fayette County Detention Center to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital about 6:50 p.m. Tuesday after he had a medical emergency, according to a news release from the jail. McKinney died at the hospital about 7:35 p.m.

Jail spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer L. Taylor said she could not comment on the case before the coroner released a cause of death. An internal investigation is ongoing, she said. Also, Lexington police are investigating.

Julie Curtsinger of Frankfort said McKinney, her brother, entered the jail May 17 to serve a 10-day sentence for driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to court documents, McKinney was arrested in February after weaving on Versailles Road, then pulling over even though a police officer behind him had not turned on his emergency lights.

McKinney refused a breath test but failed several field sobriety tests, the documents said. He was released from jail on a $500 bond and was re-booked after pleading guilty May 17.

Curtsinger said her brother had a history of epilepsy, and she said he was sometimes hard to control after a seizure "because he does not have the right state of mind to know where he's at."

Curtsinger said just before McKinney was taken to the hospital, corrections officers "restrained him and used pepper spray on him." She said he had bruises on his wrists and ankles.

She said her brother was on anti-seizure medication, and she said he told jail officials he would have seizures if he did not get his medicine. She said the family was awaiting toxicology reports to see whether jail officials gave McKinney his medicine.

Curtsinger said her brother had a seizure shortly after noon and another shortly after 6 p.m., but the jail did not notify the family of the seizures or her brother's death until almost midnight.

"There's a lot of hours that lapsed," she said. "We are still trying to get answers to the questions and pieces to the puzzle right now."

Curtsinger said McKinney was disabled and sustained head trauma in an ATV accident five years ago. She said before that, he was an electrician who ran his own company.

McKinney is the third Fayette County jail inmate to die since July 2010.

This month, a lawsuit was settled out of court involving the medical care of Dean Ferguson, 54, who collapsed in the jail in July 2010 and later died.

In February, the mother of inmate Anthony Dwayne Davis, who died in June 2011 in the jail, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against jail employees. The lawsuit said jail officials failed to give timely medical treatment. An autopsy showed that Davis, 26, died of natural causes. The suit is pending.

Staff writer Josh Kegley contributed to this report. Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears.

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