WICHITA, Kan. — Sedgwick County and the sheriff's office have reached a settlement agreement with the family of a jail inmate who was severely injured in a beating at the jail six years ago.
Today, the county entered into a settlement with the family of Edgar Richard, Jr., who suffered brain damage during the 2008 incident. Richard died of cancer two years later at a nursing home.
In February of 2008, then 59-year-old Richard was an inmate at the Sedgwick County jail. One day as medication was being handed out, an altercation ensued between Richard and one of the detention deputies, Maneul Diaz. When it was over, Richard had lost several teeth and was suffering from a skull fracture.
Diaz was fired from the jail and later charged with aggravated battery. He pleaded no contest to the charge in 2009 and was sentenced to 18 months of probation.
A civil lawsuit was later filed seeking $4.5 million in damages. The trial was set to begin on March 25, but was settled today for $300,000.
The attorney for Richard's Family, Larry Wall, while not directly addressing Tuesday's settlement, did say the needs of the mentally ill are still not being properly addressed by the justice system. "There is no effective advocacy group for the mentally ill prisoner in Kansas", said Wall. "They don't vote. They don't contribute. They don't raise money. And they are not the politician's pets."
The Sedgwick County Jail now has a section of a jail pod that focuses on dealing with mentally ill inmates. A section that didn't exist in 2008 when the beating of Richard took place.
The county said in a news release that the settlement is not an admission of liability. The full text of that release is below:
Sedgwick County and the Sheriff’s Office have entered into a settlement with the family of Edgar Richard, Jr. in the case titled Ronell Richard, as Administrator of the Estate of Edgar Richard, Jr. v. Board of County Commissioners of Sedgwick County, et al., filed in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas.
The amount of the settlement is $300,000.The plaintiff’s claim for damages in this lawsuit was in the amount of $4.5 million.
The case has been pending since late 2009 and concerns events that occurred in early 2008. Richard suffered serious physical injuries as a result of a physical response by a sheriff’s deputy during medication rounds at the Sedgwick County Jail. The involved deputy’s actions were in violation of his training and he was terminated by the Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted in criminal proceedings by the District Attorney’s Office.
The settlement will release former Deputy Manuel Diaz and Saquisha Nelson (Clark) from liability for any alleged federal or state claims. The settlement is not admission of liability.
The agreement also acknowledges the prior rulings of the District Court granting summary judgment and dismissal of former Sedgwick County Sheriffs Gary Steed and Robert Hinshaw, and the Board of County Commissioners in October 2012 and February 2014. Under the terms of the settlement, plaintiffs waive any appeal of the court’s dismissals of these parties.
The case was to begin a lengthy jury trial on March 25. Regardless of the ultimate verdict, the case was likely to involve at least a year or two of appeals and potentially other trail proceedings. A settlement at this stage was considered to be in the best interest of all concerned.