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Overdosed inmate’s family sues Waller, city, others

By Walter Geiger An Atlanta law firm has filed suit on behalf of the family of the late Casey Blake Amerine. Amerine died of a drug overdose in the Lamar County jail just hours after he was arrested for breaking into Hines Prescription Shop on College Drive April 24, 2011. Attorneys Neil Flit and Allison B. Faust filed the suit in Lamar superior court April 22 on behalf of Kendyl and Marlie Amerine, children of the dead man; Ciara Lavern, their mother and guardian; and Gloria Delong, administratrix of the estate of the dead man. The listed defendants are former sheriff Larry Waller, the City of Barnesville, Lamar County, police officers Jesse Blackmon, Freddie Oates and Jonathan Sutton, two unnamed firms alleged to provide health care at the jail and 15 unnamed individuals involved from the time Amerine was arrested until the time he died. Amerine, 24, of 321 Old Milner Road broke into the drug store at 2:20 a.m. on the date of his death and was quickly identified from surveillance video. Officer Oates, who was on patrol for the Gordon police force but also works for Barnesville, encountered Amerine on Holmes Street near its intersection with LaFayette Street. Amerine’s arm was bleeding and narcotics from the store were found in his possession. A laceration on his arm, apparently caused when he shattered the door at the drug store, was treated by EMTs. He was booked into the jail and placed in an observation cell. In a prepared release at the time, sheriff Waller said Amerine acknowledged jailers who brought his breakfast at 7 a.m. but was later found unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at 11:45 a.m. The death was investigated by the GBI. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege the sheriff, officers, jailers and health care personnel at the jail should have known Amerine had ingested drugs from the store and treated him accordingly because he had at least 10 bottles of narcotic pills in his possession. They allege he exhibited odd behavior, refused treatment for his arm and was not treated for any drug ingestion. The suit claims Amerine was not checked by jailers and that jail personnel did not enter the cell because they saw his jumpsuit moving up and down and assumed he was breathing. They allege the city and county did not properly train personnel, failed to render aid to Amerine, failed to properly diagnose him and recognize drug ingestion as a health risk and did not properly monitor him after he was booked. The suit seeks a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages for the value of Amerine’s life, his mental and physical pain prior to death, medical expenses funeral expenses and further relief as a jury sees fit.

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