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Man’s suicide in jail draws settlement with family

Laura Warfel//May 8, 2023

Man’s suicide in jail draws settlement with family

Laura Warfel//May 8, 2023

Adrian Smith was incarcerated at the Reynolds County jail from Sept. 26, 2018, until his death on Nov. 19, 2018. He had a history of serious mental illness and suicide attempts.

While incarcerated in Reynolds County, Smith attempted to escape — allegedly to get mental health medications — and was caught and put on suicide watch for a few hours. He filed formal requests for help, but the sheriff never arranged for a mental assessment and never attempted to obtain his prescription medications for him. Smith attempted suicide twice during his time of incarceration there.

Smith, 37, was found hanging from an orange electrical extension cord in the rear of his cell by the bars. He was pronounced dead at 1:59 a.m.

According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, care provided for Smith at the jail was not adequate and proper.

“I’ve handled a number of jail suicide cases over the years,” said Stephen E. Walsh of Walsh Law Firm in Poplar Bluff, one of the attorneys for plaintiffs. “This is the most outrageous factual scenario I’ve ever seen. Two other inmates did receive mental health care while incarcerated at the Reynolds County jail, and they were white. Adrian was black.”

Albert Spradling, an attorney for defendants, declined to comment.

A federal judge approved a wrongful death settlement of $900,000.

“The message to county jails is to be adequately staffed and for the staff to be adequately trained in mental health,” Walsh said.

RELATED: Click to search for and submit your Verdicts & Settlements

$900,000 settlement

Civil rights, wrongful death

Venue: U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Missouri

Case Number/Date: 1:21-cv-00095/Jan. 26, 2023

Judge: Matthew Schelp

Plaintiffs’ Experts: Melissa Ussery,

Insurer: MOPERM

Caption: Maud Y. Smith, Isayah Smith and Elyjah Smith v. Reynolds County, Tom Stout, Samuel Huff, Steve Stoops, Cody Newman and Donald Horn

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: John S. Steward, Steward Law Firm, Chesterfield; Stephen E. Walsh, Walsh Law Firm, Poplar Bluff

Defendants’ Attorney: Albert Spradling, Spradling & Spradling, Cape Girardeau

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