Family files wrongful death lawsuit after LA man dies in custody

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The family of a Los Angeles man who died in the custody of the sheriff's department is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the county.

Leon Nyarecha held back tears as he remembered his brother who died at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown L.A.

"I loved Lewis dearly, and the day he died was the worst day of my life," Leon Nyarecha said.

The family and their attorneys say Lewis Nyarecha was supposed to receive a prescribed medication for schizophrenia. They claim someone at the jail increased the dosage by 300 percent, and the amount in his body was enough to kill him on June 6, 2018.

"We do know that several hours went by without having any contact with him, and when they finally had contact with him again, he had a lethal dose of prescription medication in his body," said attorney Jovan Blacknell.

Nyarecha had been arrested for trespassing and had spent three months in jail. The family said he couldn't get bail. The attorneys say that on the day he died, the proper protocols weren't followed. They say no one checked on Nyarecha for hours, even after he missed several meals. They claim there are supposed to be checks every 30 minutes.

"We're talking 10 hours, that means 20 checks that went by, so missing dinner, missing breakfast. That's a lot of checks that they missed out on," said attorney Jaaye Person-Lynn.

"The height of insensitivity when the deputies went to check on him and take him off the top bunk, they just dropped him on his head," said attorney Anthony Willoughby.

The case report confirms he hit his head on a table and that he died of that prescription drug.

The sheriff's department told Eyewitness News on Thursday it isn't commenting on pending litigation.

The family says there were mistakes made and those mistakes cost Lewis Nyarecha his life.

"I would like to see some change in how they treat mentally ill patients in the jails," his brother said. "We need to learn all these protocols so nothing like this happens again."

The legal claim says the family is willing to settle for $15 million for wrongful death and emotional distress.
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