A Man Pointed a Finger Gun at Cops, Was Jailed for Over a Year Without Trial, and Starved to Death Behind Bars
Arrested for pointing his fingers at police in a threatening manner, Arkansas man Larry Eugene Price Jr. wound up in jail for more than a year without being convicted and eventually died of malnutrition and dehydration behind bars.
The story highlights a host of problems with our criminal justice system: trumped-up charges; long periods of imprisonment prior to being convicted; and the negligence and mistreatment of people who experience health problems while incarcerated.
“Price was arrested in August 2020 after he walked into Fort Smith Police Department and threatened officers while pointing his finger as if her [sic] were pulling an imaginary trigger,” reports Fox News. “Price, who also had a developmental disability, was homeless at the time of his arrest.”
He was charged with making terroristic threats and placed in the Sebastian County jail as he awaited trial—where he remained for more than a year. Bail was set at $1,000, which he couldn’t afford.
In jail, Price refused to take his psychiatric meds and his condition worsened, according to his family, who have filed a federal lawsuit against Sebastian County and its jail medical provider Turn Key Health Clinics.
Their complaint states that Price was a “severely mentally ill man” who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had an IQ below 55. “It was not uncommon for him to suffer from bouts of psychosis and to completely lose touch with reality.”
In jail, Price was placed in solitary confinement, the lawsuit says. He began refusing food and water, too, and his weight eventually dropped from 185 pounds to 90 pounds.
“Larry Price suffered in the tortured throes of his untreated mental disorder for months on end as jail healthcare and security staff watched him waste away—apathetic to his life-threatening medical and mental health needs and to the cruelty of his confinement,” says the family’s lawsuit. It accuses Sebastian County and Turn Key Health Clinics of “deliberate indifference and neglect” and Sebastian County Jail of “systemic deficiencies” in its policies and practices.
In August 2021, Price died from dehydration and malnutrition. He was found dead in a pool of standing water and urine.
“The county places a high priority on the safety of every person in our jail. We have medical personnel available to treat inmates in need of care,” Sebastian County Judge Steve Hotz told Fox News in an email. “The sheriff is conducting an internal review of this situation and hope to know more in the future.”
County Sheriff Hobe Runion said in a video statement that an autopsy showed Price weighed 120 pounds at the time of his death, not 90 pounds. “Let me make one point clear: the jail staff gave this inmate plenty of food and water every day,” he said, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “The jail medical staff were in regular contact with him. The autopsy said the inmate died with COVID.”
But just because staff gave Price “plenty of food and water,” it doesn’t mean that he was consuming it. A county medical examiner ruled Price’s death as being caused by acute dehydration and malnutrition, with COVID-19 as a contributing factor.
Disturbing pictures included in the family’s complaint show Price looking emaciated and skeletal.
The family’s complaint alleges that the county should have done more to address Price’s mental health issues and behavior, which included not only eating and drinking less food and water but also consuming his own feces and urine. It also notes that at the time of Price’s death, “the medical examiner observed the profoundly shrivelled (or pruned) condition of the soles of Mr. Price’s feet.” This “grotesquely wilted skin was caused by ‘prolonged moisture exposure’ from the pool of contaminated water on the concrete floor and bunk of his solitary confinement cell.”
Court reminds police they can’t pull people over just to flirt. From a recent decision of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals:
Today we confront whether the
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