The mother of a 16-year-old who hanged himself in the Iberia Parish Jail last year filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging the Sheriff’s Office did not provide proper care for the mentally ill teenager, who had tried once before to kill himself and had twice told jail staff he might try again.
Daquentin Thompson was awaiting trial in the jail on an aggravated rape charge when deputies discovered him hanging in his cell on Oct. 26.
Thompson’s mother, Yulanda Thompson, says in the lawsuit that her son had attempted suicide less than two months earlier while being held at a juvenile detention center in Assumption Parish before he was transferred to the Iberia Parish Jail.
The lawsuit alleges staff at the jail never sought his medical records from the detention center and never requested mental health evaluations, treatment or enhanced observation, even after Thompson twice talked of suicide while being held in an area of the jail where he was kept in isolation.
“He was locked in his cell for 23 hours a day, without significant human interaction and only limited opportunity to fully engage in physical exercise,” the lawsuit states. “The defendants provided no mental health care or treatment, and he was deprived of all therapeutic, educational and other programming opportunities.”
Iberia Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ryan Turner could not be reached Wednesday afternoon for comment.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the Sheriff’s Office, the company contracted to provide medical care at the jail, and several deputies and staff members.
Thompson was accused of raping a woman at gunpoint during a July 2014 home invasion.
He had pleaded not guilty.
The lawsuit in Thompson’s death comes after U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond asked the U.S. Justice Department earlier this year to launch a sweeping investigation of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, citing recent articles in The Advocate detailing allegations of abuse by its deputies .
In a three-page letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the New Orleans congressman asked for a “full investigation into the IPSO to uncover what, if any, civil rights violations of the citizens of Iberia Parish and the inmates at the Iberia Parish jail have been subject to over the course of the last decade.”
Richmond’s letter references several incidents of alleged inmate abuse detailed in recent reports by The Advocate and a video filed into court records that shows an Iberia Parish corrections officer attacking a prone inmate with the help of a dog.
The articles also detailed payouts of more than $1 million to settle lawsuits filed against the Sheriff’s Office since Louis Ackal took the helm in 2008.