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Bamberg County sued after mentally ill patient dies in prison

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – A lawsuit alleges that “grossly negligent” and reckless actions led to the death of a mentally ill patient who was exhausted at the Bamberg County Jail, where he was being held instead of being sent to psychiatric care.

The lawsuit alleges that Alan R. Thibodeau died because the jail failed to provide necessary medical care and medication, even though it could have been easily obtained. The drugs he required were Trazadone, Depakote, Thorazine, Lipitor, Atarax and Humalog, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed Oct. 26 in Bamberg District Court by a representative of Thibodeau’s estate. It names Bamberg County and registered nurse Geri Gillespie as defendants.

Thibodeau was a 51-year-old single father of one grown son who lived with his elderly parents in Prince William County, Virginia, and was their primary caregiver.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar type, and was later diagnosed with diabetes and required insulin and metformin to control his blood sugar.

The severity of Mr. Thibodeau’s mental health condition has left him disabled and unable to work outside the home, although he has been able to successfully control his mood and behavior with medication, according to the lawsuit.

After his father’s death in 2021, Thibodeau began weaning himself off the psychiatric medications that had successfully managed his mental health for many years up until that point, the lawsuit states.

February 14, 2022 Thibodeau was found sleeping in the spare bedroom of a home in Bamberg, South Carolina.

Police were called, and Thibodeau reported entering the home “to have a place to stay and get warm,” the lawsuit states.

Although he was supposed to be committed to the G. Werber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital, that never happened and he was held in the Bamberg County Jail, the lawsuit said.

During his time in prison, he dropped to 101 pounds from 178 and spent a lot of time “in an isolated cell where records show he spent most of the time naked and covered in feces,” the lawsuit says.

During his stay in prison, the lawsuit states:

  • “Despite multiple court orders pointing to Mr. Thibodeau’s untreated, severe medical and mental conditions, Mr. Thibodeau has not received any mental health medication for his open and obvious mental health condition.”
  • “Furthermore, despite Mr. Thibodeau’s diagnosis of diabetes and history of having to control his diabetes with both insulin and metformin, Mr. Thibodeau was not administered medication during his stay at the Bamberg County Detention Center despite his open and obvious need for such medication.”

Between Feb. On July 14, 2022, and July 10, 2022, Thibodeau’s “physical health deteriorated catastrophically,” the lawsuit states.

Thibodeau died on July 23, 2022, after suffering from active heart failure, circulatory failure, liver failure, kidney failure and respiratory failure, the lawsuit states.

Thibodeau was further found to be suffering from severe dehydration and septic shock.

He succumbed to severe physical decompensation and starvation on July 23, 2022, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also states:

He was “subjected to the use of force by correctional staff, including the use of Tasers,” and was not subsequently evaluated by prison staff, the lawsuit alleges.

He refused food for a period of time, and the lawsuit alleges the jail “failed to recognize Thibodeau’s psychiatric incompetence in making decisions related to refusing food.”

The jail also failed to exercise reasonable or gentle care to stabilize Thibodeau’s acute psychiatric and medical condition and/or transfer him to a facility capable of treating him, the lawsuit alleges.

The jail “failed to act with reasonable or inconsiderate care to promptly transfer Mr. Thibodeau to the emergency department or out of a medical facility for advanced medical care in light of his obvious and well-known physical and mental deterioration,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit alleges that jail staff “failed to exercise reasonable or indulgent care to ensure treatment for Mr. Thibodeau’s thrombocytopenia, hypothermia and hypoglycemia.”

“As a direct and proximate result of the defendant’s negligence, gross negligence and wanton conduct, Mr. Thibodeau was seriously injured, suffered needlessly and subsequently died,” the lawsuit states.


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