CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The family of a 45-year-old St. Elmo woman who died while in the CoreCivic Detention Center in Hamilton County last year is suing CoreCivic.
India Palmer is suing CCA for $15 million in connection with the death of Dana Shunice Palmer at the detention center formerly known as Silverdale.
The lawsuit claims Palmer died when corrections officers used pepper spray on her, which caused her to choke and suffocate.
The incident happened back on February 22nd, 2017. The Hamilton County Sheriff's Department says Palmer was booked into the Hamilton County Jail from the Chattanooga Police Department on Valentine's Day on a public intoxication charge. She was transferred from the jail to CoreCivic two days later.
The suit says CoreCivic had a policy of spraying detainees with pepper spray upon a first offense, or after they refused to do something.
The suit says Palmer's official cause of death was listed as accidental, but instead of pepper spray or choking, the medical examiner says she died due to "foreign bodies in her throat."
Earlier this month, a Hamilton County grand jury released a report on Silverdale, after touring the facility between September and December of 2017. The jury said that the facility needs more medical personnel, and that they are "flabbergasted by the way medical concerns have been put off leaving inmates suffering." Read more about that report here.
In response to that report, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said "We constantly have turnover in a correctional facility - whether it's the workhouse or the jail."
On Wednesday, the Hamilton County Commission approved a $195 million dollar bond, with about $20 million of that bond approved for building projects at Silverdale Detention Center.
Read the full lawsuit filed by Palmer's family below:
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