Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Inmate Left to Die in Jail Restraint Chair

William Ames left to die from a drug overdose while strapped in a jail restraint chair
William Ames

Traffic Stop Leads to Man’s Death

(MO) – In November of 2018, William Ames was pulled over for a traffic stop. When Ames saw that police were stopping him, he swallowed a baggie of flakka that he had in his possession. Flakka is a street drug that is made by combining other intoxicants. Those flakka drugs are “methamphetamine, cocaine and bath salts.” This is a highly deadly combination that should have resulted in Ames being taken straight to a hospital.

Instead, Ames was taken to the St. Francois County Jail to be booked. Deputies strapped 36-year old Ames into a restraint chair then proceeded to ignore his screams and pleas for help for more than 24 hours even though the booking desk is only about 15 feet away from the cell that Ames was in and is staffed on a 24/7 basis. According to the Daily Journal Online, deputies “left the screaming, suicidal man there as he begged for help, the suit alleges, not even releasing him to use the bathroom.” 

Unbelievably Callous and Inhumane Treatment by Officers

According to the lawsuit, the officers knew that Ames had ingested flakka. This has been denied by the county. What they did know, from past experience, was that Ames required anti-seizure medication due to a past head injury. Ames had been arrested before and a family member had brought his anti-seizure medication to the jail. When Ames’ girlfriend brought the anti-seizure medication to the jail, she was turned away.

Ames’ situation was so bad that the other inmates kept trying to get the officers to go help him. Joe Braun who is an ex-police officer, and Ames’ stepfather, stated “The guard on duty made no attempt to get him medical care. We have multiple witness statements that he was in that chair from Friday night until he died early Sunday morning.” 

Officers Misuse Restraint Chair

Attorney Vonne Karraker who represented William Ames’ parents, pointed out the egregious misuse of the restraint chair, by officers, in Ames’ death. “It blows my mind that they use that chair the way they do. If they just read the instruction manual, Billy would be alive.”

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

The first words of those instructions? “WARNING: Use of the SureGuard Correctional Chair without first reading and thoroughly understanding the instructions could cause injury or death.”

Detainees “must be monitored regularly,” the instructions say, and provided “medical treatment.” Instructions suggest a two-hour time limit to be held in the chair. If monitored by a doctor, an inmate could be held in the chair for up to 10 hours, the instructions say.

The cause of death has been listed as acute meth intoxication. In my opinion, the cause of death was police negligence. None of the articles on this story have indicated how much flakka was ingested by Ames.

County Settles for 1.8 Million

The County of St. Francois has settled the wrongful death lawsuit against them for 1.8 million dollars. It does not appear that any of the officers are being held accountable for the death of William Ames.

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