The family of Larry Eugene Price Jr. is suing the state of Arkansas' Sebastian County after he died in jail.
According to records Price had intellectual developmental disorder, PTSD and other mental health issues. His IQ was about 50 and he was frequently homeless and arrested for disturbance charges related to his mental condition.
Those disturbance charges are what lead to his arrest.
According to Newsweek, Price frequently wandered into Fort Smith, Arkansas police station where he would usually hang out and then leave. But on August 19, 2020, the unarmed Price used his finger like a gun to point at officers, threatening and cursing at them. The officers couldn’t calm the agitated Price and allegedly for his wellbeing, arrested him on a state felony – terroristic threatening in the first degree. They also agreed that Price was no immediate threat. Once locked up, Price went before a judge who set bond at $1,000 to be released at ten percent. Unfortunately, Price could not afford the $100 bail so, he remained incarcerated. For a year.
Price's trial for his pending criminal charges was scheduled for trial in Feb. 2021. According to the prosecutor's report, the case was delayed until May, due to the pandemic. In April, defense counsel for Price filed for another continuance. He was scheduled to undergo a mental examination by the state hospital on Sept. 2, 2021.
According to the prosecutor's review, jailers gave Price food, but they said he would often not eat it. They reported seeing Price eat his Styrofoam tray at times and said he would often throw feces and urine at them.
Price, who stood 6 feet 2 inches tall and normally weighed around 200 pounds, was emaciated when he passed away after spending a year in the Sebastian County Detention Center. He was gaunt with his bones showing and looked like a "famine victim". At the time of his death, August 21, 2021, Price was barely 90 pounds. Jail medical records say that Price weighed 185 when he was booked and 120 when he died. His family begs to differ after seeing his body (below).
His brother, Rodney Price, is now suing Sebastian County, the healthcare corporation providing medical services to inmates in the jail Turn Key Health Clinics, LLC, a Turn Key psychiatrist and nurse, and other unnamed defendants.
According to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the lawsuit alleges that when Price refused to take his antipsychotic medication, a Turn Key psychiatrist discontinued his prescription and the psychiatrist “never made any effort to follow up with Mr. Price or to address his serious mental health needs.” Price allegedly reported to jail medical staff, “I am sick and have lost a lot of weight[.] I need to see a doctor,” but because he was described as being “non-compliant,” no appointment ever happened. Price was placed in solitary confinement and a Turn Key nurse was informed the man was eating his own bodily wastes, but still he was denied medical treatment.
The family's attorney, Erik Heipt, made the statement to the press that Price “was not serving a sentence. He was awaiting trial the whole time — for a crime that he wasn't mentally capable of committing.”
Price’s aunt, Beverly Ann Releford said she tried several times to see her nephew in lockup, but was turned away. She was never told that it would take only $100 to release him, and she was never told that the reason she was denied was because Price wasn’t able to fill out the paperwork to list her as a visitor. She said to Newsweek, "They could have told me...I would have given up $100 to get him out of there so he didn't pass away like he did."
The lawsuit requests a trial by jury, arguing Price’s 14th Amendment rights, specifically his right to medical and mental health treatment, was denied.
There is no set court date as of yet and there has not been any word on just how much in financial compensation Price's family is seeking.