Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dallas County won't defend four deputies involved in shady jail death

The Dallas News' Kevin Krause reported yesterday that:

There was an interesting development this morning in the case of former Dallas County inmate Corey Bailey, who died in 2008 after a violent confrontation with sheriff's guards.

Bailey's mother, Cathy, is suing the county and five jail guards in a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed last year. She is alleging the guards used excessive force in June 2008 and failed to get Bailey needed medical treatment. She also is questioning the official cause of death, saying drugs did not play a role.

County commissioners voted this morning to hire an outside lawyer, Marc Richman, to represent four of the five jail guards who are being sued over the altercation that led to Bailey's death.

The district attorney's office concluded there would be a conflict if the county defended the guards. County officials wouldn't elaborate.

Peter Harlan, a lawyer in the district attorney's federal section, will continue to defend Dallas County and one of the guards in the lawsuit.

That could mean the Dallas County Sheriff's Department concluded in its internal investigation that four of the five guards violated policy during the altercation, and therefore the county doesn't want to defend the guards.
In the comments to that post, former Dallas County jail guard Lindsey Wilhite referenced her own account of these events in a self-published book based on her experiences working at the Dallas jail called "Covered Up." I downloaded the book, and here's an excerpt regarding this case:
Murder at Decker Detentions/Cory Bailey

If you have ever gotten pepper in your eye, then you have a slight idea of what its like to be pepper sprayed. As part of our academy training, we have to be sprayed and then walk to water buckets and decontaminate yourself. I did mine in 110-degree heat with no wind in mid July. That is just a side note to the real story though.

You may also know that pepper makes your nose run and pepper spray makes everything run. You also tend to spit a lot to try to get it out of your system. Obviously, the officers in this story did not think about that the night they killed a man.

It started with a normal unruly inmate, or so they claim. It happens all the time. Only this time they handled it all wrong. Normally if you have to lay hands on them, as soon as you pepper spray them, its over. Pepper spray is end of the fight. Instead, they sprayed him first. Several officers sprayed him several times. They then proceeded to beat him.

He was not fighting back, but Decker doesn’t see much action so the officers there go overboard and jump at every chance they get at throwing a punch. They did a transfer, which came through fairly quick, to the West Tower. They had never bothered to take him to the nurse or have one come see him to decontaminate him.

You always have to decontaminate. Because there was so much pepper spray on him, he began to spit. Anyone would do that just trying to rid their body of the painful spray in any possible way they can. Now for the inmates that have no contaminates on them and are spitting we have a thing called a spit shield. It is a cloth mask that prevents the spit from flying out. You can also pull their jumper top over their heads. That idea was too far-fetched for officer Lasi and four others because they thought it wise to put a plastic trash bag over someone’s head that was already having a hard time breathing. Sgt Cipriano had told Officer Lasi to remove the bag but did not take any disciplinary actions nor ensure the bag was indeed removed. Now in all fairness to the county, officer Lasi did end up being fired but had no criminal charges pressed against him. He was not terminated for causing the unnecessary death of a person, instead he had lied in internal affairs about placing the bag on his head. Moral of that is you can kill someone whilst working there, just make sure you don’t lie about it.

So Lasi and the other four officers helped load the plastic masked inmate into the transfer van to take him to West Tower. Another thing you have to be aware of, that they teach you about in the academy, is positional asphyxia. It is most common with larger inmates or those with anything affecting their breathing. It is when a person is in such a position that the airflow just doesn’t get to the lungs properly. The body acts as a selfstyled tourniquet. Yet here we have a man that has been pepper sprayed several times, beaten, and is now sitting with a plastic bag on his head. Those are the perfect conditions for positional asphyxia.

And such was the case. When they arrived at West Tower he was non-responsive. Three officers carried his lifeless body to a holding tank and left him there. After more than fifteen minuets of him not moving from the cell floor, the nurses were called in. He had no vitals. An ambulance was called. He was taken to Parkland memorial hospital.

The first thing they tell you at the jail is, “no one ever dies in the jail. They die at Parkland.” And so was their story.

Their cover up.

If you do any kind of internet or article search for Cory Bailey deaths at the County, you will only come up with one article from the local newspaper. In the article, Assistant Chief Deputy Monica Birdwell said there are no details other than he was in fact moved from Decker to West Tower due to an officer altercation. Pam Leach responded to their inquiry via email stating,” I have no other details at this time and will not until the investigation is complete.” she refused to say anything or even confirm that the death had occurred. The odd thing is, no such investigation ever took place. I know all officers involved and each of them told me that it was dropped except for Lasi’s case for lying.

To proceed with an investigation would be to admit that something happened and that the county might be at fault.

This happened over a year ago, June 27 2008, and still no charges have been filed on any officer nor was any further investigations conducted. No one has been held responsible. No answers for Mr. Bailey’s family. The investigation was terminated due to “lack of evidence”. I guess they carried their trash out in the same bag.
In a blog post from December 2008, Dallas attorney Michael Lowe gave additional detailed background on the case. Perhaps the pending civil litigation will reach some of these issues of alleged culpability by jailers that the Dallas Sheriff's Internal Affairs investigation failed to address.


Anonymous said...

Let the chips fall as they may.

Anonymous said...

Those who advocate "eye for an eye" justice ought to be the first in line waiting to pepper-blast these cowards and put plastic bags over their heads whilst they beg for life. Then again, those advocating that type of justice are the ones wearing badges and/or supporting "the badge" no matter what they do.

R. Shackleford said...

Reprehensible. A stark and highly unpleasant glimpse into the mentality of prison guards and their attitude towards their charges. Were I on the receiving end of Texas "justice", I'd be halfway to Paraguay before the indictment hit the table.

Anonymous said...

Quote "Perhaps the pending civil litigation will reach some of these issues of alleged culpability by jailers that the Dallas Sheriff's Internal Affairs investigation failed to address."

LoL WRONG! I have looked into the Hope Steffey case. She was a CRIME VICTIM that was abused at the jail.

They will NEVER take this case to trial. Instead it will be settled quietly with a big hunk of taxpayer's cash. (And I'll back this claim up with $100 if anyone wants to take the bet.)

And then when their excuse of the case being in litigation is gone, they will THEN claim it's an "old case", and will still not want to discuss details of it.

They will then wait for everyone to forget & move on to the next case of police abuse.

Happens every time.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, do you think that this will lead to cameras being installed and/or being used to document the so-called unruly inmates, the attempts to calm them down, the entry of the tanks, the removal, the transportation to elsewhere, and the end result of the entire process?

I know, editing and out-of –view areas would be an issue. But as we can clearly see, these ‘killers with-out guns’ are out of control. Everyone knows that plastic bags are dangerous; it’s printed on the box and/or the bags themselves. This by itself makes it an intentional killing.

It seems that the county could get a discount at Fry's on cameras and wire that would pale in comparison to the monies paid out in law suites? As long as the Dallas County taxpayers & voters remain ignorant, this will never stop. Thanks.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

TRG, that was one of the reforms, of course, after the sex scandal at TYC.

book publishers said...

And then when their excuse of the case being in litigation is gone, they will THEN claim it's an "old case", and will still not want to discuss details of it.