Greenwood County Jail is being accused of negligence after an inmate died in 2019.
Greenwood County jail is at the center of a lawsuit filed after a female inmate “died of apparent drug toxicity while in the county’s custody.” At the moment, the suit is accusing the county, city, police, and sheriff’s office of neglect.
What happened, though? For starters, the inmate, Tracy Sims, was arrested back on September 26, 2019, after Greenwood County drug enforcement unit agents showed up at her home with a search warrant. While questioning Sims, “she appeared to gag, struggling to breathe and acting as if she were going to vomit,” according to court documents filed on August 17, 2021.
The complaint, which was filed by a representative for Sims, noted that Sims was offered a glass of water, but even after she drank it, she continued to gag. The complaint further noted that “it was clear at this time Sims needed to be sent to a hospital for a medical examination.” A report conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division claimed “Sims repeatedly denied ingesting anything and told officers she was suffering from a panic attack that appeared to subside after she drank the water.”
Instead of seeking out medical care, the agents took Sims to the Greenwood County Detention Center. While there, she was booked and charged, and “an officer that handled her intake at the jail told SLED agents that Sims seemed under the influence of alcohol, but that she was alert and aware.” According to the complaint, there was not a nurse present in the booking area to perform a medical screening.
In fact, Sims wasn’t seen by a medical professional until later that evening when jail nurse Marijayne Bolden strolled through the I-Unit where Sims was being held to pass out medications. According to reports and the legal complaint, Sims had to be “helped down from her bunk bed by other inmates, and an officer noted she was shaking.” The nurse checked her over and “helped her go to the restroom, where the nurse noted Sims was sweating and foaming at the mouth.”
Alarmed by Sims’ condition, the nurse called for a wheelchair and took her to the medical clinic in the jail. Unfortunately, Sims’ condition continued to deteriorate until staff finally called EMS. However, Sims was unresponsive before EMS even arrived and she slid from her wheelchair.
When EMS arrived, Sims was rushed to Self Regional Medical Center and passed away an hour later. According to the complaint, “it was clear based on her condition during her arrest and later intake at the jail that staff should have known she required emergency medical attention.” However, the jail staff neglected her and failed to provide proper care. Additionally, the staff failed to monitor or even evaluate her condition. .
A later report comprised of interviews and accounts from inmates, officers, and jail staff noted that Sims “repeatedly told officers she had not consumed any drugs, and that many of her symptoms were from a panic attack or bad nerves.” When an autopsy was conducted, however, officials found a “small plastic bag with a 1/8-inch defect in it inside her stomach, and a toxicology report showed at the time of death her blood contained methamphetamine and amphetamine.” A forensic pathologist ruled the cause of death was accidental methamphetamine toxicity caused by Sims “ingesting a plastic bag that may have contained drugs.”
So far, the defendants have pushed back against the allegation of negligence.