GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) A Dallas attorney, acting for the family of a former Coryell County Jail inmate who died while in custody at the facility, on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit that says jailers were responsible for her death.
Kelli Leanne Page was 46 when she died on Oct. 8, 2017 after Coryell County jailers extracted her from her jail cell, attorney T. Dean Malone writes in his original complaint in the matter, filed in the U.S. District Court, in Waco.
Page had been arrested and was being held in the jail, where jail employees were aware that she was extremely obese and suffered from several other underlying health issues, the complaint says.
Video from that day shows at the time of the incident Page was inside her cell and not acting aggressively, but when two officers entered her cell they sprayed her with a chemical suppressant and slammed her to the floor, the complaint says.
“She was ultimately held in a prone position – face down – with weight being put on her upper body area by one jailer and on her lower body area by another jailer.”
An autopsy, conducted by the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, at Dallas, revealed: “She was eventually restrained in a prone position with one officer putting force on her upper back region and another officer putting force on her buttocks/thighs until she became unresponsive."
He reported, based upon evidence in the case and his experience, “Kelli Leanne Page, a 46-year-old female, died as a result of mechanical asphyxia in association with physical restraint,” and "Hypertensive cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, and obesity likely contributed to the cause of death."
The medical examiner listed as the manner of death, “Homicide.”
“There is evidence indicating that Coryell County, while having a written cell extraction policy contemplating the use of at least five jailers, failed to adequately staff the jail and/or had a custom of not enforcing the policy,” Malone said.
Coryell County had a constitutional obligation to Kelli, as a pre-trial detainee who had not been convicted of anything, to act reasonably when using any force with her, he said.
Kelli’s death was an unnecessary, tragic result of events that should have never happened.”
Federal clerk’s records indicate Coryell County has yet to file any issue in the case.
On Wednesday U.S. District Judge Alan D. Albright issued summons to the county and jailers involved.