Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed for In-Custody Death of Stacey L. Cox: Is Justice Possible?

MADISON COUNTY, Ind. – A civil complaint has been filed in federal court seeking damages for the death of Stacey L. Cox, who died while in police custody in 2022. The complaint, filed by Deborah Harting as the special representative for Cox’s estate, requests a jury trial and seeks monetary damages against the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, the correctional medical provider, and the employees of both entities. The complaint alleges that Cox’s death at the Madison County Jail was unnecessary and wrongful.

Cox’s arrest in 2022 resulted in charges of possession of a narcotic drug, unlawful possession of a syringe, and resisting law enforcement. However, these charges were dropped after her death. According to the complaint, Cox was stopped by police on September 2, 2022, for riding a bicycle without lights. After a brief chase, she was detained and handcuffed. During the arrest, police found a hypodermic needle filled with blood sticking out of her pants. Cox was then taken to the Madison County Jail in the early hours of September 22.

At the jail, officers conducted a search and found a clear bag of white powder, which Cox admitted was heroin. Despite Cox’s admission of drug addiction and a blood disease, she was not given a medical examination and was placed in a detox cell with other inmates. Throughout the night, Cox vomited multiple times and requested medical attention. When informed of Cox’s withdrawal symptoms, a nurse provided her with Tylenol, Zolfran, and a mat to sleep on the floor. Cox’s struggle continued the next day, with both her and other inmates requesting medical help.

On September 23, Cox asked a jail officer for a nurse, but one did not respond. Moments later, Cox’s last movement occurred, as she gasped for air for nearly three minutes. The complaint alleges that the jail staff and medical personnel were aware of Cox’s addiction and medical condition but failed to adequately treat her symptoms, leading to her death. The complaint suggests that Cox’s life could have been saved if she had received more care and attention.

The plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees, and all other appropriate relief available under the law. The case highlights the serious consequences that can arise from inadequate medical attention and care in correctional facilities. It raises questions about the responsibility of law enforcement and medical personnel to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals in their custody. The outcome of this case will have implications not only for Cox’s estate but also for the broader conversation on the treatment of inmates in jails.