A schizophrenic man who gouged out his eyeballs while suffering from delusions in a Colorado jail has reached two settlements for a total of A$3.9 million in a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Ryan Partridge, 37, was serving time in the Boulder County Jail for assaulting another homeless person when he ripped out his eyeballs in the throes of a psychotic episode in December 2016.
The inmate, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, believed the CIA ordered him to harm himself and was left blind by the horrific act of self-mutilation, according to CBS News.
Partridge reached two settlements after his family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against then-Sheriff Joe Pelle and Boulder County in US District Court in Denver in 2017.
One is for $325,000 (A$500,000) for jail staff’s repetitive use of excessive force and the second is for US$2.225 million (A$3.4m) for their deliberate indifference to Partridge’s psychiatric needs, his lawyer David Lane told the Denver Post.
A video from the jail shows the staff trying to subdue the prisoner while he was naked.
“I hope the people of Boulder wake up to the fact that their jail conditions are frequently not humane and this is going to cost Boulder over US$2.5 million dollars,” Lane reportedly said.
“The citizens of Boulder should be outraged and concerned about the lack of basic health care and human decency in the Boulder County Jail,” he added.
Partridge’s family alleged in their lawsuit that jail staff knew he suffered from mental illness and kept him in solitary.
“I don’t like solitary. I don’t think this would have happened had I not been in solitary,” Partridge told CBS Denver in 2017.
He had previously tried to take his own life behind bars and jumped off the second tier of the jail, knocking out several teeth when he hit his head against a toilet, according to the outlet.
Partridge also was afraid of being poisoned and refused his meds.
“I remember them asking if I wanted medication. I didn’t know what for and I didn’t trust anyone,” he told the CBS station.
The lawsuit claimed, among other things, that the Boulder Sheriff’s Department could have sought an order for emergency and forced him to take the medication.
Pelle said at the time that jail staffers were not equipped to force inmates to take their medication when they refused, adding that they did their best to help prisoners diagnosed with mental illness.
Along with Pelle, the lawsuit named 21 other defendants, including current sheriff Division Chief Jeff Goetz.
“The sheriff does not believe any of the staff involved in the incident were at fault or violated the law,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Carrie Haverfield told the Denver Post in a statement.
“Nonetheless, it is our hope that the settlement will provide some closure for Mr. Partridge, his family and the sheriff’s office employees who were impacted by the tragic events in which Mr. Partridge harmed himself during a mental health crisis he experienced in the jail,” she said.
Haverfield added that under state law, jail medical staff are banned from involuntarily administering psychotropic drug to inmates who have been prescribed, but decide to discontinue them. “The jail employs a highly qualified medical team that provides medical and mental health treatment to inmates, and it has protocols aimed at preventing at-risk inmates from causing self-harm,” she said. “However, the jail cannot offer the same level or scope of treatment as a hospital.”
This article originally appeared in The NY Post and was reproduced with permission.