Atlanta/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on December 21, 2023
Fulton County Jail and Medical Provider NaphCare Sued Over Death of Incarcerated Atlanta TeenSource: Google Street View

The Fulton County Jail and its medical staff are facing a lawsuit after an Atlanta teen with a history of mental health issues died while in custody, as first reported by Atlanta News First. Shane Kendall, 18, who had been charged as an adult for the murder of his adoptive mother at the age of 15, was found unresponsive in his cell on Feb. 1, 2021.

Kendall's attorney, Rachel Kaufman, suggested that his death might have been preventable with proper care. She described Kendall as "the most vulnerable kid if you took five seconds to actually learn about him," according to Black Enterprise. The lawsuit includes allegations that the jail's response to Kendall's emergency was slow and ineffective, and that the staff failed to perform continuous CPR or use an AED device.

Court documents obtained by Black Enterprise highlight that a medical provider from NaphCare, the for-profit company contracted to provide medical care in the Fulton County Jail, refused to perform CPR on Kendall due to having a "bad knee." The report also noted that another provider appeared "disorientated" upon arriving more than 10 minutes later. In response to the lawsuit, NaphCare has filed a motion to dismiss, denying any fault in the teenager's death.

Kendall, who suffered from development delays after testing positive for cocaine at birth, along with a series of mental health problems, had his family claim he was not treated appropriately given his mental state. The family argues, that Kendall shouldn't have been placed in the jail's "general population." Margie Thorpe, Kendall's stepmother, expressed to Black Enterprise, "It's not just about Shane. There are so many lives in there," arguing that the continued contract with NaphCare, which has seen more than 300 lawsuits against it, "is a crime."

The lawsuit casts a critical light on the justice system's handling of vulnerable individuals, and the family's pursuit of accountability is part of a larger narrative about the treatment of mentally ill inmates within the correctional system. The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is yet to comment on the pending litigation.