Mother sues Lexington jail over son's death

The mother of an inmate who died in June at the Fayette County Detention Center has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against jail employees, including retired director Ron Bishop.

Janet Davis' complaint, filed Tuesday in Fayette Circuit Court, says jail officials failed to give Anthony Dwayne Davis, 26, timely medical treatment, including medicine that was prescribed to treat a congenital heart condition. On June 25, officials found Davis without a pulse in a cell in the jail's medical unit. He was later pronounced dead at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. Fayette County Deputy Coroner Shea Willis said Tuesday that Davis died of natural causes.

"Everybody acknowledges" that funding correctional facilities is a problem, said Justin Morgan, the attorney representing Janet Davis. "However, that doesn't change the fact that the people that are incarcerated are not disposable, and they deserve access to medical care when they need it."

Janet Davis is the administrator of her son's estate. Bishop was director of the jail when Anthony Dwayne Davis died. Bishop retired Aug. 1.

Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Gray, said she could not comment on pending lawsuits.

Davis was arrested and booked June 18 at the detention center, according to the complaint.

At the time of his incarceration, Davis was taking the prescription drug Sotalol for a congenital heart condition. "The label for his prescription clearly states that the user is 'not to skip' doses unless instructed to do so by a physician," the complaint said.

Davis was in good health and in no physical distress from his heart condition or any other ailment when he was booked at the jail, the complaint said. But after being denied his medication, his health deteriorated steadily, according to the complaint.

Janet A. Davis observed her son's condition and advised several jail employees "including nursing and/or medical personnel of this requirement numerous times during the period of time in which Anthony was incarcerated, but they refused to obtain his medication" or allow his mother to bring it to the jail, the complaint said.

The complaint asks for an undetermined amount in damages.

Jail records obtained by the Herald-Leader in August under the Kentucky Open Records Act showed that 19 hours before Davis died, jail officials denied his request to be taken to a medical unit.

A nurse and a mental health specialist evaluated Davis at 1:41 a.m. June 25, and the mental health specialist told a corrections officer that Davis probably was "manipulating the system," according to the records.

Davis was acting erratically, according to jail records, and at times he refused to obey the directions of corrections officers.

At 3:45 p.m., Davis' mother called the jail, "distraught" over his behavior, and told jail officials he was on medicine, a report said. Jail officials redacted words from the report, making it unclear what medical condition Davis' mother discussed with the jail.

Officials moved him to the medical unit at 6:30 p.m. Two hours after that, Davis was found in the cell, the report said.