An inmate at Boulder Jail who was gravely mentally ill has now sued Sheriff Joe Pelle in federal court for jail staff's failure to stop him from using his own fingers to gouge out his own eyes. The inmate had even tried to do so before several times.
The lawsuit against Pelle and 21 other jail employees was filed by Denver civil rights attorneys David Lane and Kathryn Stimson on behalf of Ryan Partridge, 31, in U.S. District Court in Denver. The lawsuit claims he blinded himself because they failed to see the warning signs and treat his mental illness.
Partridge is now blind and suffers from deep, severe schizophrenic psychosis. He is seeking monetary awards for negligence and compensatory damages for physical and psychological injuries that include pain, emotional distress, and humiliation.
The lawsuit outlines all the precursor events that led to the blinding and claims the jailers failed to respond to them. In 2016 he banged his head into his toilet, breaking seven teeth.
Six weeks prior, while having a psychotic episode, Partridge attempted suicide by climbing to the top railing on a second-floor tier in the jail and diving headfirst into a metal table.
Partridge survived the fall with several broken vertebrae after smashing his head on the table and then the floor. A month later he tried to jump from the same railing but deputies talked him out of it. The self-harm had continued for several months as Partridge attempted suicide several times.
Shane McGurk, the jail's mental health program director, sought an emergency court order saying Partridge was "presenting with unmistakable signs of severe mental illness." The judge ordered deputies to immediately take partridge to get psychiatric treatment.
"That order was ignored as Mr. Partridge sat, balled up in his cell, and plucked out his own eyeballs," according to the lawsuit. "Defendants’ willful and deliberate indifference to Mr. Partridge’s serious medical needs directly led to his self-mutilation, head and vertebrae injury, broken teeth and ultimately, to his permanent blindness."
The lawsuit also says jail officers used "repeatedly used excessive force against an uncomprehending Mr. Partridge, regularly Tasing and punching him, leaving him bloodied, in pain, and tortured." The lawsuit also claims the jail failed to properly train officers in how to care for a mentally ill inmate.
One jail officer wrote, "Inmate Partridge is well known to the Boulder County Jail staff and has a history of mental health issues, which has been deteriorating considerably, with each passing incarceration."
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