Lawsuit Filed Against City After Man, 26, Dies in Potter County Jail; Not The First Questionable Death
A federal lawsuit has been filed against Potter County following an Amarillo man's death while incarcerated in Potter County Jail.
The lawsuit involves the circumstances surrounding the death of 26-year-old Larry Darrell Douglas, Jr. and alleges that the jail staff acted in negligence in not seeking prompt medical attention.
Douglas was found unresponsive in his single-occupancy cell at Potter County Jail on March 9, 2022. Texas Rangers were called out to investigate and an autopsy was ordered. The results of the autopsy showed that Douglas' death was caused by a ruptured appendix, a complication of appendicitis.
Attorney Dean Malone, a personal injury and constitutional rights lawyer based out of Dallas, Texas, represents the surviving family members in the suit against Potter County.
According to Malone, Douglas had begun to vomit continuously and refused to eat. When he began to experience a swollen stomach, severe abdominal pain, and fluctuations in body temperature, other jail detainees asked staff to get medical help numerous times.
One jailer reportedly informed one or more other employees at the Potter County jail that she thought he was suffering with appendicitis--yet no medical care was sought.
“We do not live in a Third World country." said Malone. "The survival rate for a ruptured appendix is over 95%, and it is over 99% if the appendix had not ruptured."
In the days leading up to Douglas' death, he was left in a single-person cell for observation until a nurse practitioner was to visit the jail the next day. It is uncertain why Douglas was left in the solitary cell for an extended amount of time before being discovered unresponsive.
"If Larry had been anywhere other the Potter County jail when appendicitis symptoms hit, he would have gone to a local hospital, received great care, and lived," said Malone.
"There is no excuse for a young man to linger and die in a jail cell when life-saving care is just a short drive away.”
Not The Only Inmate to Die in Custody
Douglas is not the first inmate to die while in custody at Potter County Jail
In 2021, David Quannah, 37, was found unresponsive in the booking room and pronounced dead after lifesaving efforts were performed
In 2020, Billy Ivy, Jr. found unresponsive, later determined that he died from an overdose.
In 2016, Marlene Gonzalez, 31, died in custody. She had reportedly been in treatment for other issues at the time of her death.
In 2019, Genaro Rocha II, 47, was found in his cell. He died from cardiac arrest after life saving procedures were performed.
In 2018, Daniel Martinez, 22, was found deceased while in custody. Preliminary autopsy reports showed Martinez died from auto-asphyxia.
In 2008, Michael Dick, 33, died while in custody. The official cause of death was found to be peritonitis due to a perforated duodenal ulcer. The Dick family sued and settled in 2010 for a sum of $400,000. Of that sum, $60,000 came from the City of Amarillo.
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