$1M settlement reached in 2018 death of inmate
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
The Harrison County Circuit Court released an order on Thursday for a compromise and insurance settlement payment of $1 million to be paid to Vicki Renee Budd, the personal representative of the minor daughter of Jerod Draper, who was pronounced dead at Brownsboro Hospital in Louisville as an inmate of the Harrison County Jail in 2018.
Draper, 40, was arrested at about 4 a.m. on Oct. 4, 2018, in Corydon following a vehicle pursuit.
Draper informed the deputies that he was suicidal after they noticed cuts on his wrists. After EMS arrived, Draper was transported to Harrison County Hospital in Corydon for medical evaluation. According to the order, Draper was shortly released and transported to the county jail. During the booking process, Draper began to display signs of agitation and was placed in a cell under suicide watch.
Signs of agitation continued and Draper was placed in a restraint chair. Staff indicated he was “trembling and felt warm to the touch” and had a temperature of 99.3. Symptoms continued and some began to worsen as Draper was noted to have been walking into furniture and spinning in circles once back inside a cell. Eventually, he was placed again in the restraint chair.
Correctional staff deployed a taser “in an attempt to gain compliance” from Draper. Harrison County EMS arrived to transport him to the hospital, where he became unresponsive.
The preliminary drug screen performed during the second trip to the hospital indicated the presence of methamphetamine in Draper’s system. He was airlifted to a Louisville hospital where he was pronounced dead. The final autopsy report, completed by the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office, which was provided all video footage from the moment of the arrest until Draper was transported to the hospital, indicated Draper suffered acute poisoning from methamphetamine overdose, which ultimately caused his death.
The time periods during which Draper was placed in the restraint chairs is what the majority of 13 claims in the circuit court order detailed. Those claims state that sheriff’s department employees present while Draper was under restraint misused their authority by using a drive stun on Draper six separate times.
Another claim states that evidence provides that a nurse and reserve officer also used unreasonable force by using his own taser in probe mode.
Some of the other claims include that the jail employees present failed to take reasonable measures to provide treatment for the serious medical need of a drug overdose, that the jail commander and supervisor of the facility at the time and then-Sheriff Rodney Seelye knew the individual defendants had a practice of discharging tasers on restrained inmates and allowed it and that the sheriff’s office failed to properly train its employees on recognizing drug overdoses, the proper use of five-point restraint chairs and use of tasers.
Laws, punishments and the burdens of proof are different in civil and criminal court systems. In a civil case, the elements of the case must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence and civil cases typically result in monetary damages or an injunction. The right to a jury trial is not always granted for civil cases.
Attorney Larry Wilder, representing the Draper estate, said Draper’s family has remained quiet through the process as to allow the court proceedings to take place.
“It is very easy to bang the drum when no one demands that you show them the drum you bang,” Wilder said. “We do not need to bang the drum on behalf of Jerod, the $1 million payment and the 7,500 pages of documents and the more than a dozen depositions and the eight-hour video substantiate the fact that these things happened.”
The Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. maintains its innocence in the cause of death of Draper.
Sheriff Nick Smith, who was not sheriff at the time of the incident, said that any death of a community member is a “travesty” and that it is “heart-breaking no matter what for the family and all involved.”
He also shared that the department purchased a body scanner with federal dollars that could potentially flag bags of drugs in a stomach and prevent instances like this in the future.