Lawsuit filed by Oregon resident seeks damages over April 2015 stay at San Juan County Adult Detention Center


FARMINGTON — A former inmate has filed a lawsuit against the county jail alleging he was injured by jail guards, deprived of adequate medical care and improperly restrained.

Oregon resident Jared West, 30, filed the complaint in district court on March 31 against the San Juan County Adult Detention Center, San Juan County, jail Administrator Tom Havel and jail employees.

Eric Sirokin, West's Albuquerque-based attorney, said he hopes the lawsuit will lead to a change in procedures and training at the adult detention center for proper care of inmates.

"I think that there needs to be a lot more focus on the needs of people that come into the correction system," Sirokin said in a telephone interview. "Too many decisions are being made on costs."

West is pursuing unspecified damages for personal injury, pain and suffering, and emotional distress, along with punitive damages against the defendants and attorney costs.

San Juan County CEO Kim Carpenter and Havel both declined comment, citing the pending litigation.

Lawsuits have been filed against the adult detention center and the San Juan Regional Medical Center, the jail's health care provider at the time, claiming inmates suffered injuries or death from denied or substandard medical care.

MORE:County, hospital settle inmate death lawsuit

One lawsuit was filed by 18 inmates in April 2015 and claimed the jail and health care providers had denied the inmates basic medical care, causing injuries and suffering.

West's lawsuit stems from his being incarcerated at the detention center in April 2015 for more than three weeks, according to the complaint.

He was visiting family in Farmington on April 2, 2015, when his mother contacted law enforcement officials to help secure West to "ensure he got to a hospital for a medical intervention …  She advised dispatch that he was not violent, but was bipolar and having a manic episode," the complaint states.

West, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was transported to the San Juan Regional Medical Center, then taken to the adult detention center.

While incarcerated, it is alleged West was "locked in isolation, assaulted by Defendant Correctional officers until he lost consciousness and was restrained," according to court documents.

The complaint also states he allegedly was placed in a straitjacket and a restraint chair for "allegedly being 'non-compliant' by spitting blood out from his injuries." He also claims he did not receive medical attention for a broken hand.

West alleges he was not adequately evaluated or treated by any psychiatric personal. He claims he was never taken to the behavioral health unit at the San Juan Medical Center, and the jail declined a request from hospital employees to have him examined, according to court documents.

The complaint also alleges Havel ordered that food and water be withheld from West as "behavioral modification" based on allegations he had assaulted jail employees.

In the court documents related to the out-of-state fugitive charge, West's attorney Victor Titus filed an emergency motion to have West transferred to the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas, N.M.

Titus' motion stated West challenged his competency to stand trial, according to court documents.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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