Lawsuit: Missouri Mother Allowed to Die in Jail Cell

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A lawsuit has been filed alleging a young mother was allowed to die in her cell in a Mississippi County jail, the St. Louis Riverfront Times reports.

On a night in May of 2015, after a car accident, Somer Nunnally, 21,  was arrested by Charleston police on suspicion of DUI. Police brought Nunnally to a hospital, where they gathered evidence and documented her intoxication, but did not attempt to determine whether she was in need of help, or if she had overdosed on the pills they knew she had taken.

After a blood sample Nunnally would be taken to Mississippi County jail. According to the lawsuit, footage from within the jail shows the young mother struggling to keep herself upright, and later drifting in and out of consciousness. The lawsuit alleges that her jailers stood by and laughed as this happened.

“This particular case, it really is a tragedy,” attorney Sam Wendt told the Riverfront Times. “They had an awful lot of time to provide her with medical care,” which he says they did not ultimately do.

By 2:18am, the lawsuit says, Nunnally had stopped moving. Nobody rendered aid, checked her vital signs, or helped her in any way and she was left there for over two more hours, when a guard found her completely unresponsive and discovered she had urinated on herself. Somebody finally called 9-11, but it was far too late for an ambulance; Nunnally’s heart had stopped. She was pronounced dead around 5:00am from “mixed drug intoxication,” according to county coroner Terry Parker.

Sheriff Cory Hutcheson, the administrator of the jail during the incident, has been arrested on 18 unrelated criminal charges since, nine of them felonies. Hutcheson allegedly roughed up a 77-year-old hairdresser after an argument over a paycheck. He also stands accused of forging documents which allowed him to track the cellphones of a judge, state troopers and a prior sheriff.

While Hutcheson is no longer legally able to make arrests himself, he was released on bail soon after his arrest, and he continues to work as an administrator at the sheriff’s office.

Nunnally’s family’s lawyer says that Hutcheson was “reckless and/or callously indifferent” to her plight in 2015. Their lawsuit names Hutcheson, two Charleston police officers, two jailers, the jail’s current administrator, Sally Gammons-Yanez, and the county. They are accused of violating Nunnally’s civil rights and of wrongful death.

[Correction: The incident took place in Mississippi County, Missouri, but a prior version of this article said it happened in the state of Mississippi.]

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