Federal lawsuit filed following death of teen in custody

By Staff Writer | Jan 05, 2016 06:52 PM EST

The family of Jimariya Davidson filed a lawsuit last December 7 against Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery Niles and 16 other staff members of the Metro Regional Detention Center following his suicide.

According to 11Alive News, the lawsuit claims the teen "was kept in solitary confinement for days with no exercise, showers or even a functioning toilet". The lawsuit cites issues with Georgia's juvenile facilities dating all the way back to 1997. In Jimariya's case, his family's attorneys say "rather than address his basic needs, the staff routinely locked him in solitary confinement and neglected to provide him with required exercise, education, and even showers".

Additionally, the lawsuit also indicated that Jimariya had previous five suicide attempts leading up to his death using sheets and strings to hang himself on April 5, 2015. After the suicide, two people were fired and two others demoted.

In an exclusive interview of Jimariya's family on 11Alive News, they said that the 14 year-old teenager was incarcerated for stealing a mobile phone and for having unruly behavior. His mother, Denise Butler, revealed that they talk on the phone every day and that he was in good spirits when he called the day before his death.

According to a report from TPM, the lawsuit described that the actions of the correctional officers and staff clearly violates the constitutional rights of Jimariya, letting him suffer physical, mental and emotional injuries and ultimately death. Detention center staff routinely locked the 14-year-old in solitary confinement and didn't allow him the required amount of exercise, education or showers, the lawsuit says. When J.D. began to resist confinement, officers slammed his hand into the cell doors, causing severe injuries, the lawsuit says.

There has been no comments from the Department of Juvenile Justice and the state employees involved in the case. But according to Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman Jim Shuler, the department could not comment on an ongoing litigation. 

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