Monday, February 11, 2019

El Paso County inmate's death: family files notice of claim

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 at 8:38 AM

El Paso County, UCHealth Memorial Hospital and others are being named in a notice of claim that seeks uns
click to enlarge Deramus Lemuel's booking photo. - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office
  • Deramus Lemuel's booking photo.
pecified damages in Deramus DeWayne Lemuel's death after he was treated at Memorial Hospital and incarcerated at the Criminal Justice Center from July 31 to Aug. 1, 2018.

The story of Lemuel, 38, has been told several times in local media, most recently by The Gazette, which published a video of his struggle in the jail.

The Jan. 25 notice of claim, submitted by Killmer, Lane & Newman law firm of Denver, also names the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Colorado Attorney General's Office and Colorado Springs Fire Department.

On July 31, Lemuel was arrested outside a liquor store and tried to swallow a baggie containing methamphetamines. He was taken to the hospital where he underwent tests, X-ray exams and treatment and appeared to be responding well, the claim letter says.

But when officials tried to get him ready for transport to the jail, he was "diaphoretic, shaking, talking non-sensical." He was returned to the hospital but just over two hours later he was taken to the jail, the letter says.

There, he struggled with deputies and was subdued but stopped breathing. He was ultimately taken back to Memorial Central where he died on Aug. 14.

The El Paso County Coroner's Office ruled his death a homicide, saying he "died as a result of complications of illicit drug intoxication and physical restraint by law enforcement."

The Sheriff's Office said several months ago when asked about Lemuel's death that he was "brought into our jail by Parole for a violation. While in the intake process he had a medical episode and was transported to the hospital."

From the claim letter:
Counsel may bring a variety of legal claims on behalf of Mr. Lemuel’s estate and members of his family, including excessive force, wrongful death, deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, and other claims relating to defective medical care.

Defendants’ treatment of Mr. Lemuel violated his most sacred legal rights, including his right to be free from excessive force at the hands of the government and to receive adequate medical care. Defendants’ conduct cost Mr. Lemuel his life, leaving his wife without a husband, his children without a father, and his mother without a son. Defendants’ conduct has caused significant injuries and damages to Mr. Lemuel’s estate and family. Cases like this are difficult to precisely value, as much of the damages sustained are not subject to precise calculation, and will be determined by a jury should this case proceed to trial. Damages in this case are extensive due to the nature of Defendants’ conduct and the fact that the physical and emotional damage will continue to affect Mr. Lemuel’s family for the rest of their lives.
In addition to the agencies named above, others that might be named in a lawsuit, according to the claim letter, include the six state corrections officials, Sheriff Bill Elder and 22 jail personnel and four UCHealth personnel, including a doctor and three nurses.

The law firm is representing claimants that include Lemuel's wife, mother and eight children.

Read the claim letter:
We've asked several of those named as potential defendants for a comment and will update if we hear back. The county has declined to comment, and like the county, the city routinely declines to comment on pending litigation.

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