Wrongful Death Case Presented for Family of Satterfield
Below is the press release that followed the filing of a wrongful death suit for Michael “Shane” Satterfield against the Decatur County Sheriff Gregory D. Allen and 13 jail officers who were listed in connection with his death.
Stephen M. Wagner is handling this case for the family of Satterfield, and although no criminal charges were filed, the family hopes these proceedings will bring awareness to the need for proper detox monitoring for prisoners who are admitted with drug and alcohol problems.
For assistance with a jail death or civil rights lawsuit, contact Wagner Reese at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation.
FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
October 31, 2014
Today the family of Michael “Shane” Satterfield filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against Decatur County Sheriff Gregory D. Allen and 13 jail officers in connection with Shane’s March 17, 2014 death at the Decatur County jail located at 119 Railroad Street, Greensburg, Indiana.
Shane went into the Decatur County jail on March 13, 2014 to serve a 14-day sentence after he pled guilty to OWI. He was 38 years old and a resident of Greensburg. Unfortunately, the Decatur County jail turned a 14-day sentence into a death sentence.
When checking into the jail, Shane admitted to jail personnel that he had an alcohol problem and would likely experience withdrawal symptoms during his jail stay. This is a common occurrence at county jails, and all jails have standard operating procedures addressing how to monitor detainees going through alcohol withdrawal. Most individuals can be treated for mild withdrawal symptoms at the jail. However, for a small percentage of people going through alcohol withdrawal, their symptoms deteriorate into full-blown Delirium Tremens (DT’s). DT’s is a medical emergency and requires inpatient hospitalization. With proper treatment in a hospital setting, DT’s is rarely fatal. The classic symptoms of DT’s are hallucinations, shaking, agitation, confusion, and disorientation. All jail officers are taught to look for these symptoms, and jail policies require individuals displaying these symptoms to be transported to a hospital immediately.
Shane began displaying obvious signs of DT’s on his third day in jail. He was observed hallucinating by numerous jail officers– talking to imaginary people, believing there was a bomb in a cell, and reporting that there were serpents in his pants. Shane’s condition worsened each day. He broke his glasses, cut himself, and even wrote “HELP” on the wall with his own feces. Unbelievably, the jail officers recognized his behavior as hallucinations due to alcohol withdrawal, but took no action. Shane refused to eat or take Benadryl, a mild medication which is completely ineffective to manage DT’s. On March 17, 2014 around 11:00 AM jail personnel did place Shane on a “30-minute medical watch”…but then proceeded to completely ignore the watch, letting hours go between checks. He spent the last few hours of his life slumped in the corner of his jail cell.
Shane’s family believes one of the reasons this tragedy occurred was the fact that Sheriff Allen had a policy in place a policy whereby no detainees could be taken to the hospital without his personal approval. Pursuant to this policy, at approximately 5:00 PM on March 17, 2014, jail personnel finally called Sheriff Allen and advised him of Shane’s deteriorating condition. Sheriff Allen advised he would “come over and check on him,” but he didn’t show up and enter Shane’s cell until 6:30 PM. By that time it was too late.
The Indiana State Police investigated Shane’s death and uncovered the tragic facts outlined in the lawsuit filed today. Although the Decatur County prosecutor declined to file criminal charges in this matter, perhaps due to the systemic nature of the jail’s failings, the family fully intends to seek justice through the civil courts. Shane’s family hopes that their lawsuit will bring public awareness to the need to carefully monitor all individuals in county jails who are at risk for alcohol withdrawal and DT’s. The family also hopes that no county sheriff will institute policies which put the health and safety of detainees at obvious risk.