Family gets $2.85M settlement after man dies in jail

The man died after being booked on a misdemeanor charge

Bradley Thomas being led to a hearing at the Lincoln County Jail the day before he died. (Courtesy of Lincoln County Jail)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Lincoln County will pay nearly $3 million to the family of a man who was found naked and dead in his jail cell more than 2 years ago.

The settlement comes after a lawsuit was filed last year, saying the inmate died from dehydration and starvation.

Bradley Thomas being led to a hearing at the Lincoln County Jail the day before he died. (Courtesy of Lincoln County Jail)
Bradley Thomas being led to a hearing at the Lincoln County Jail the day before he died. (Courtesy of Lincoln County Jail)

Bradley Thomas was suffering from mental illness when he died in April of 2015. Attorneys blame his death partly on lack of training for jail staff.

“The real problem is that the people in the jail didn’t know what to do,” the family’s attorney, Tom Melville said.

Melville said 55-year-old Thomas was so mentally debilitated and ill that he didn’t realize he needed to eat and drink.

He died 2 weeks after being booked into the jail on misdemeanor charges.

The lawsuit claims jail staff identified his illness and deteriorating condition, but failed to meet his basic needs for treatment and medication.

“If these are the people, the deputies, who are going to be dealing with drug addicts and the mentally ill, it should be mandatory that there’s training for these people in how to handle them,” Melville said.

Video recorded the day before a Thomas died shows 2 deputies helping him to a hearing where a judge committed him to the Oregon State Hospital for his mental illness. Before transferring there, Thomas stayed one more night in his jail cell where he was checked on hourly by the staff.

In a statement regarding the $2.85 million settlement, the county admits Thomas died of dehydration in the cell, adding that the county is taking his death very seriously and will continue to enhance training to reduce the risk of it occurring again.

Thomas’ mother is stiff angry and said through her attorney, “The loss of my son Bradley in such a horrific way has turned me into a bitter person.”