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Pickaway Correctional Institute Hit with Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Inmate Death

— February 8, 2022

The Pickaway Correctional Institute and some of its staff members were recently hit with a wrongful death suit over the death of an inmate, Michael McDaniel.

A wrongful death lawsuit was recently filed in the Ohio Court of Claims by the sister of Michael McDaniel, an inmate who died while in custody at the reception center for the Pickaway Correctional Institute. 

A police officer wearing a body camera. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:Ryan Johnson. (CCA-BY-2.0).

According to Jada McDaniel, her brother, “who was serving a six-month prison sentence at the time of his death in February 2021, died at the age of 55 as a result of correctional officers’ use of excessive force and denial of appropriate medical treatment.” She added:

“Not only do I believe that Michael was a victim of a crime, I further believe that his federal civil rights were violated.”

To back up the allegations, a report issued by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction back in July found that “four out of the five incidents of excessive force used against McDaniel were ‘unjustified and excessive,’ prompting the ODRC to recommend further disciplinary action’ against eight prison employees involved with McDaniel’s death.”

What happened, exactly? Well, according to the ODRC report, “two correctional officers claimed that after conducting a random search of McDaniel’s cell, McDaniel became combative and started assaulting the officers.” As a result, one of the officers ended up handcuffing McDaniel and proceeded to escort him “to the medical unit when he reportedly became ‘dead weight’ and dropped to the ground sixteen times — four of which occurred because of officers’ use of force,” according to the report. The report further noted that the “fifth use of force incident, determined to be excessive and unjustified, occurred while McDaniel was in the medical unit”

Things didn’t get better in the medical unit, unfortunately. According to the report, McDaniel was “treated for slightly over one minute by a nurse who failed to check his vital signs and submitted improper records.” After that, he was escorted from the medical unit and promptly collapsed. From there, he was rushed to a local hospital and died. 

To Jada McDaniel, going after the officers “is not enough,” she said. She is condemning Pickaway County Prosecuting Attorney Judy Wolford for “declining to present her brother’s case to a grand jury” and added:

“Those responsible for Michael’s death should be held criminally liable as well…They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law…Michael was loved by family and friends. We all miss him…There can not be any justice for Michael without civil and criminal accountability for those responsible for his death.”

She also noted that her brother’s death is what spurred the ODRC to implement a body-worn camera program, something she said is a “positive agent of change in the correctional system.” For now, Jada is working with the Opportunities Peoples Justice Leaders to advocate for criminal justice reform to make “institutions safe for inmates and staff.” 


Family of Pickaway man who died in prison files wrongful death lawsuit

Ohio Family Files Lawsuit After Man Dies in Prison

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