From [HERE] andn [HERE] After Jaron Thomas died in police custody, his family is now filing a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the Columbus Division of Police. In a 23-page lawsuit filed Thursday, the family is seeking more than $1 million in punitive damages and more than $1 million in compensatory damages.
Jaron B. Thomas, 36, died Jan. 23 at Riverside Methodist Hospital. He had called police from a North Linden residence on Medina Avenue on Jan. 14 saying that he was afraid he was dying and he was hearing voices.
“I feel like I’m going to get shot. And I’m really paranoid because I was high. And it feels like I’m going to die or something,” Thomas told the dispatcher on a 911 call.
Sean Walton, the attorney representing his family, says Thomas had been hallucinating after ingesting cocaine when he called police on January 14. He knew that he needed help and had calmly asked for a medic on his 911 call
“After his call for help - that call for help was very calm, very polite, very respectful - at some point the police responded," Walton says. "And instead of transferring him to NetCare, he ended up beaten.”
The complaint says police punched, body-slammed and kneed Thomas, causing him to lose consciousness.
“He suffered several broken ribs, head and body contusion, blood-clotting in his sternum and other injuries,” Walton says. “So his injuries don't coincide with the Columbus Police statement that they used minimal force on him.”
Thomas was on the ground and began kicking while officers were waiting for an ambulance. One officer took Thomas’ legs and folded them in a maximum restraint position to keep him from kicking. Another officer said, “I think the guy stopped breathing,” according to reports. Officers detected a faint pulse. Medics arrived within seconds and chest compressions followed shortly after. Thomas died nine days later in the hospital.
The Franklin County Coroner’s Office ruled that Thomas’ death was accidental and his cause of death was due to a lack of oxygen to his brain that was caused by cardiac arrest and cocaine toxicity. Due to the coroner ruling an accidental death, the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office declined to present the case to a grand jury, according to a case file from the police totaling more than 200 pages.
An internal police investigation into the incident is still pending, a spokesperson confirmed Thursday.
Thomas showed signs of excited delirium, according to the coroner’s report. That’s a medical condition in which a person becomes uncontrollable and can exert themselves until their heart stops.
“Mr. Thomas died due to excited delirium syndrome which, in response to the use of excessive force by police officers, pumped so much adrenaline into his body that it functioned as the equivalent of a heart attack or respiratory failure,” said Sean Walton, an attorney with the firm Walton + Brown who represents Thomas’ family, in a released statement.