November jail suicide due to staff not following procedure

Yesterday, we learned that the Escambia County Jail had its second death in less than three months, putting it on a pace to match former Sheriff Ron McNesby’s unenviable record of three deaths in a ten-month span–which triggered a Department of Justice investigation into the jail.

The November 1, 2014 death was a suicide. James Brumley, age 48, hung himself in a shower. Brumley was known to be suicidal and was in the jail infirmary, where he was supposed to be checked on at intervals not to exceed 15 minutes. In the offense report, the ECSO investigator wrote, “I reviewed the video of the movement of the victim from his cell to the shower unit. The victim was placed in the shower alone and at no time during the video did anyone enter the shower unit until a correction officer entered the unit to remove the victim. While in the shower, the victim was not ‘viewed’ for over 45 minutes.”

The security staff said that they were not told by the medical staff that Brumley was suicidal so they only checked on him once an hour. The shower was on a timer and the shower knob had to be pressed every two minutes to keep running. Bromley was placed in the showers at approximately 21:40. The Corrections Officer assigned to the infirmary, Randy Wentz, told his supervisor that he heard Brumley talk to himself and the water running in the shower at approximately 22:06. Twenty-four minutes Wentz checked on Brumley when he could no longer hear the water running. He found Brumley hanging from one of the shower faucets. (It was later discovered that the victim had torn a piece of his bed sheet and taken it inside the shower with him.)

The investigator was told this by Wentz’s supervisor because he refused to talk with the sheriff’s office. The investigator was told to call Wentz’s attorney, Roy Kinsey, who advised that his client would not provide any type of statements at this time.

As soon as we get more information on yesterday’s death, we will post it. It’s our understanding that inmate was in the booking area.

County Administrator Jack Brown launched an internal investigation after this article was posted. The medical staff did not consider Brumley a suicide risk and didn’t have knowledge of his earlier suicide attempt. Due to federal regulations, the county is not allowed to release any information on his medical condition or why he was in the infirmary.

Friday, Jan. 23 release:
Escambia County has completed an internal review of the circumstances surrounding the death of Escambia County Jail inmate James Brumley in November 2014.

Based upon evidence collected by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and internal jail medical records, Escambia County Corrections employees fully complied with Escambia County Jail policies and with the Florida Model Jail Standards 11.07.

The inmate was evaluated upon intake and was placed on an hourly watch status in accordance with Escambia County Jail policy and Florida Model Jail Standards. Therefore, it has been determined Escambia County Corrections employees met and exceeded jail and state standards for inmate monitoring for this individual.