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The mother of a Bangor man who died after he was found unresponsive in his cell at the Hancock County Jail in 2020 is suing the county, its sheriff and other officials, claiming they ignored signs that he was unwell, which ultimately led to his death.
Dorothy Poole filed a lawsuit in federal court in Bangor last week on behalf of her son, Tyler Poole, who died by suicide. Poole, 29, was incarcerated at the jail in December 2020 and the lawsuit alleges that the Sheriff Scott Kane, jail administrators, correctional officers and jail medical staff “took no action to protect him from suicide or to provide appropriate medical care.”
The lawsuit is the second filed against the county jail in connection to a death by suicide since 2020.
On Dec. 8, 2020, a few days after being arrested on a domestic violence charge, Poole told officers at the jail that he was detoxing off Suboxone and wasn’t feeling well. According to the suit, he hadn’t eaten since the previous morning, was shaking uncontrollably and experiencing restless leg syndrome.
On a medical request form, Poole wrote he was “freaking out,” having mood swings, couldn’t sleep and was throwing up because of acid reflux. Two days later he told a nurse that he continued to have anxiety, according to the lawsuit.
“I feel like I’m losing it!” he wrote in one of several request forms.
During a prior arrest in 2019, Poole had to be taken by emergency responders to Eastern Maine Medical Center after he cut his own arm several times with a knife.
But officers and medical officials at the jail did not heed these indications that her son was at high risk for suicide and failed to provide adequate protections and appropriate medical care, according to Dorothy Poole.
Poole was placed in the general jail population in a cell by himself and died less than a week after his request for medical attention. He was never put on suicide watch, according to the lawsuit.
What care, if any, Poole received was not clear from the lawsuit. The mother’s attorney did not immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday.
“Throughout his incarceration at the Hancock County Jail, [Poole] never received the level of medical and mental health diagnosis, medication or treatment he needed and which the [jail was] constitutionally required to provide,” the 14-page complaint read.
Kane did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, nor did an attorney who was representing him and other officials in a separate wrongful death case at the Ellsworth jail from 2020. Hancock County administrator Michael Crooker declined to comment on the Poole case.
Formal responses to the allegations by the defendants had not yet been filed with the court.
Maine state police opened a routine investigation into Poole’s death. A police spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday on the department’s findings.
The other wrongful death suit against the jail was filed in 2020, after Monica Johnson died by suicide in 2018. Similar allegations were levied by Johnson’s family in that case.
Johnson’s husband claimed that the jail did not provide her with adequate medical and mental health services, and that the jail staff were not properly trained. That lawsuit is ongoing.
Dorothy Poole has asked to be compensated for the mortuary, funeral and burial expenses, as well as damages for the suffering her son’s alleged wrongful death has caused.