GRAPHIC: Family of man who died in custody and was allegedly bitten by rats files lawsuit
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS/Gray News) - The family of a man found dead while in custody at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center (ASGDC) launched a lawsuit Wednesday.
Lason Butler, 27, was found dead on the morning of Feb. 12. An attorney for the family, Bakari Sellers, said in a briefing that Butler had been found with rat bites on his body and had died in the solitary confinement area.
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Butler had been in custody since Jan. 31 and was facing traffic charges that included reckless driving, failure to stop for a blue light and driving with a suspended license.
On April 6, it was announced Butler’s death was ruled a homicide by the Richland County Coroner’s Office.
“This is the worst civil rights case I’ve ever seen,” Sellers said.
According to the presentation Wednesday, Butler was denied medical care by Alvin S. Glenn detention staff, who allegedly refused to allow a nurse to check on his condition. Eyewitness testimony from other inmates in the facility provided statements saying Butler was denied water and had been screaming for help.
“They took my son. I still don’t have any answers,” said Butler’s mother, Lakeshia Butler. “I hurt every day. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss my son.”
She said that she attempted to bail her son out and had the money to do it, but was told her there was a hold on her son’s release.
Sellers provided a timeline of statements from staff and the director to the family discussing his condition. Medical reports said Butler lost 42 pounds over 11 days. Butler died of dehydration and was shown to have an elevated sodium level at the time of death.
Sellers showed in the presentation photos of the alleged bite marks on Butler’s body from rats.
“Think about what you’ve done to my son,” said John Matthews, Lason Butler’s father. “He didn’t deserve this.”
Sellers said of Butler’s treatment: “Subhuman conditions of confinement and deliberate indifference to serious medical needs are responsible for the homicide death of a 27-year-old man in a mental health crisis who was being detained on misdemeanor charges.”
Richland County and ASGDC employees were named as the defendants in the lawsuit.
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