CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A lawsuit filed Wednesday by the family of a former Al Cannon Detention Center inmate claims he died after he was deprived of medications and left to live in squalor.
D’Angelo Brown (28) was booked into the Al Cannon Detention Center on August 10, 2022, according to the lawsuit.
Brown suffered from several mental disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He was prescribed a cocktail of medications to manage his symptoms.
Upon being booked into jail, Brown’s regiment of medications stopped. The lawsuit claims that Brown informed an officer that he needed his medication on the fourth day he was there, but Brown did not receive any treatment.
Brown was kept in an isolated cell in the Behavioral Management Unit. Less than a month into his stay, his condition had deteriorated to the point where Brown “was refusing meals, was naked, and appeared agitated.” Officers said that Brown was “smearing feces and exhibiting off and unusual behavior” and that his cell was “filled with water, urine, and feces.” On September 9, it was noted that Brown “needs to be seen by mental health/medical badly.”
Brown was taken to MUSC due to “altered mental status” on September 11. He was given several sedatives and antibiotics, and his condition appeared to improve. Brown was discharged September 29 “with intramuscular injections, Depakote, remaining doses of Klonopin, and Trazadone” prescribeded.
According to the lawsuit, Brown never received any of the medications once he returned to the detention center.
Over the next few months, Brown’s condition spiraled. The lawsuit states that he was “naked, growling, disorganized with flight of ideas,” he was not eating and unable to provide answers to basic questions, and his cell was “covered in urine and feces.”
It was not until December 14 — over a month after Brown was observed eating feces — that an expert was called in for a virtual “competency evaluation.”
The expert determined that Brown was not mentally competent to stand trial due to his psychosis, but that the condition could be managed with the proper medication.
On December 15, an order was given for Brown “to undergo treatment through the South Carolina Department of Mental Health for up to 180 days for observation and treatment to restore his competency to stand trial.” The lawsuit says that Brown did not receive that treatment before his death.
In the early morning hours of December 21, an officer and several nurses found Brown in his cell alive, but unresponsive. He was taken to MUSC, but never regained consciousness. Brown died on December 29.
The lawsuit accuses the staff of knowing about Brown’s “deteriorating condition and [acting] in blatant disregard of his health and life by failing to intervene on his behalf.” It goes on to assert that the detention center’s failure to provide adequate care is well-documented, with Brown being one of six pre-trial inmates to die in 2022 alone.
Medical care at the detention center is provided by Wellpath LLC, which has “a well-known and well-documented history of providing allegedly unconstitutional and substandard medical services resulting in thousands of lawsuits throughout the country.”
Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano has called Wellpath’s services “woefully inadequate,” according to the lawsuit.
The contract with Wellpath is set to expire in June, and CCSO said that Charleston County “began accepting bids from prospective providers in December.” The contract is through the county, not the detention center.
CCSO provided News 2 a statement reading in part:
“Every Detention Center resident has the right to adequate medical care. While our staff cannot provide it directly, we are committed to providing access to quality care. We will continue to work with the on-site medical contractor and Charleston County to address concerns about the quality of care provided at the facility… We also have worked with the Public Defender’s Office and the Solicitor’s Office to increase communication about mental, behavioral and physical health at the Detention Center. These discussions will continue.”
Editor’s note: This story is breaking and may be updated.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated Brown’s August arrest was not listed on the detention center website. The arrest is listed, but did not show up in the initial search because Brown’s name was spelled incorrectly during booking.