The family of a man who committed suicide in the Grady County jail in 2017 is alleging jailers are to blame for not heeding the cries of their son.
In the suit, the family of 20-year-old Justin Thao is accusing jailers of breaking the law and jail standards.
Justin was being held in Grady county while in the custody of U.S. marshals, taking him back to California where he was set to finish his sentence for a marijuana related offense.
Jailers said Justin "advanced on a nurse" and was taken to solitary confinement. Video released by the attorneys shows an agonizing hour and 15 minutes where Justin screamed for help, appearing to be paranoid and in distress.
“I'm not going to get shot! Just f****** send me home! What the f***! I'm sorry!” Justin can be heard yelling at one point in the video.
Over the course of the video Justin was never checked on, despite calling out more than 20 times saying things like "I'm f***** dying, I'm on f****** drugs, leave me alone, and I'm going to commit suicide." At one point a jailer ignored Justin’s cry for help.
“Help! Please help!” Justin can be heard yelling from his cell in the video to a jailer passing through the solitary area. “Shut up or you won’t go!” the jailer yells back.
Justin would eventually hang himself with a large towel that had been tied around the handle to his cell. The towel had been given to him by a jailer a direct break with jail standards. Jailers found Justin sometime later, struggling to open the door to the cell under Justin’s weight. Paramedics performed CPR but Justin was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
The attorneys allege jailers never examined Justin, were not on duty nor had video into Justin's cell. They also say Justin was repeatedly prodded with a taser while being taken to solitary. They also say jailers lied to paramedics saying they checked on Justin every 15 minutes. All of which is either allegedly against the law or jail standards.
The family is now suing for damages in excess of $75,000.
The Grady County Jail had been cited in recent reviews for problems with supervision over solitary confinement. Safety alterations were made to the adjacent cell to Justin’s, which included a way to see into the confinement. Those changes were not made to Justin’s cell.
Attempts to reach the Grady County Jail Authority were unsuccessful, and a message left for the jail's federal liaison for comment was not returned.