Who is Lason Butler? How did he die in a South Carolina jail? Explained

According to the lawsuit, jail personnel failed to offer “sanitary conditions, sufficient health care, and release from solitary confinement.” Butler, 27, passed away in custody after spending almost two weeks in for minor traffic offences.

How did Lason Butler die in a South Carolina jail

According to a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday, a 27-year-old man died in a South Carolina jail earlier this year as a result of unsanitary circumstances and staff negligence.

Lason Butler, who passed away from dehydration at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County, South Carolina, is the subject of a federal lawsuit in which seven defendants are named. Rat bites covered his entire body.

Lason Butler, who exhibited “erratic behaviour,” was sent by Richland County officials to a room at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center where he frequently lay naked next to an unflushed toilet and was put on suicide watch despite the fact that they were aware the area was unsuitable for detainees with mental health issues, the lawsuit claims.

Cause of death of Lason Butler

Butler was discovered dead on February 12 with fresh rat bites and no running water, according to the lawsuit, after a two-week period in which he lost more than 40 pounds (18 kilogrammes) and was diagnosed as being “floridly insane.”

According to an autopsy report, Butler died from dehydration. Butler’s death was deemed a homicide by the Richland County coroner, who noted a “lack of action” on the part of the jail officials. Butler was the third prisoner to pass away at the time of his passing this year, according to the coroner.

Butler’s mother, Lakeshia Butler, filed the case on his behalf. It claims that Butler’s due process rights under the 14th Amendment were violated because staff members were willfully inattentive to his urgent medical needs. Six correctional employees and Richland County are named in the lawsuit.

Autopsy report of Lason Butler

The lawsuit claims that the defendants’ failure to meet Butler’s “basic human needs, including sanitary conditions, access to health care, and relief from solitary confinement, was unreasonable, was done intentionally, willfully, maliciously, and with deliberate indifference and/or reckless disregard for those needs, and resulted in death.”

At a news conference on Wednesday, Butler’s family participated alongside civil rights lawyers Audia Jones and Bakari Sellers, the former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. To support their argument, the attorneys there went through a number of witness statements, medical records, and graphic photographs.

We don’t know the value of a Black man’s life, but we’re going to find out for sure, added Sellers.

According to Sellers, Butler’s blood tests revealed sodium levels of 184 milliequivalents per litre, which are significantly higher than the range and suggest dehydration. Butler called out for assistance multiple nights to keep the rats away, according to written testimonies from other prisoners. The defence attorneys displayed CCTV footage of jail guards lowering the man’s “motionless” body off a gurney to the ground.

Who is Lason Butler? How did he die in a South Carolina jail? Explained
Who is Lason Butler? How did he die in a South Carolina jail? Explained

According to Lakeshia Butler, she made multiple attempts to pay her son’s $1,500 bond but was told he had been put on hold each time. She claimed that Butler was just a few months away from finishing trucking school.

“I put a lot of effort into raising my son to be a man. He was an actual person. It made no difference what he did. Everyone makes errors. He made a mistake, that is all “She spoke while her face was covered in tears. “He shouldn’t have been forced to pay with his life, though. His life is invaluable.

Police arrested Lason Butler on charges of reckless driving

On January 31, police detained Butler on suspicion of dangerous driving, failing to stop for blue lights, and operating a vehicle with a suspended licence.

The allegations of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the facility are not new. Disability Rights South Carolina filed a federal complaint in April alleging that cells where detainees with disabilities are kept for up to 24 hours a day are hazardous and filthy. According to the complaint, disabled detainees are also left naked in cells without supervision while under suicide watch.

Stuart Andrews, an attorney with Burnette Shutt & McDaniel who is defending Disability Rights in the other action, called the circumstances as “flatly unconstitutional” and “inhumane.”

No one should be exposed to conditions that have been as horrible as those at the jail, especially not people with major mental illnesses, he said. “We think they’re mostly caused by chronic, serious staffing shortages that the jail officials have been telling the county about on a regular basis for a long time,”

It is commonly known that the jail has a staffing problem. As of June 4, 2021, there were roughly 141 detention officer openings, as mentioned in the agenda for a Richland County Council meeting last summer, which the council acknowledged was “greater than average.”

The council unanimously decided in July 2021 to suggest raising the beginning pay for correctional officers to $36,500, effective August 2021, in order to attract more job applications. One council member claimed that the facility might function well with fewer correctional officers than the allotted 264. 50 posts, some of which had been vacant for “quite some time,” will be frozen to help pay for the wage increase.

The family’s attorneys claimed that the jail’s problems and the circumstances that caused Butler’s death go beyond staffing issues. Sellers pushed the jail to cease keeping people with mental health issues in the unit once more.

Jones declared, “This is an issue with humanity.”

Federal lawsuit filed in death of Lason Butler

According to The State, Butler’s lawsuit alleges that while he was being held in the jail’s “Special Housing Unit,” he was refused access to food, drink, and medical attention. Richard County and Shane Kitchen, who oversaw the jail when Butler was detained there for misdemeanour traffic offences, are two of the defendants.

Also read: How Did Terry Castro Die?

Bakari Sellers and Audia Jones, civil rights lawyers, are the plaintiffs’ representatives. The staff’s treatment of Butler has been described by Sellers, a former state representative, as “deliberate indifference,” which he called “the two most crucial words in this case.”

We’re going to take this all the way to the federal courtroom steps, Sellers continued.

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