A Kentucky woman whose son was strangled and beaten to death inside the Clark County Detention Center is seeking at least $300 million in a federal lawsuit.
Jeremiah Bowling was housed at the jail in late 2016 with a man who had tried to kill his cellmate less than a month earlier, the lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department states.
Franklin Sharp, a 34-year-old with 10 felony convictions and 27 misdemeanor convictions who failed to appear in court 18 times, spent 27 days in isolation before being released to the general population of the jail and housed with 25-year-old Bowling.
“No reasonable person would have authorized the double-celling of Jeremiah Bowling and Franklin Sharp,” according to the lawsuit filed last week by Las Vegas attorney Nadine Morton on behalf of Bowling’s mother, Patricia Fitzpatrick. “Defendants were the moving force behind the series of events that ultimately led to the foreseeable harm of Sharp choking, beating, and killing Bowling.”
Metro officials did not respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit.
Before Bowling was attacked, Sharp used his bedsheet to strangle another inmate, while saying “die mother———,” the lawsuit states.
On Oct. 8, Bowling and Sharp were locked in their cell on the third floor of the jail’s north tower. About 5:30 that evening, Corrections Officer Angelo Larry spotted Sharp at the cell’s sink, with wet soapy hair, washing his hands. The officer asked Sharp to step aside, and spotted Bowling facedown in a pool of blood, unresponsive.
“He would not let me look out the window,” Sharp told the officer.
Bowling, who had been in jail for about two months on a grand larceny charge, was pronounced dead less than an hour later, just five days before his scheduled sentence. He had pleaded guilty, and prosecutors had said they would not make a recommendation on his punishment, which could have included probation.
Morton said she hoped the high dollar figure would send a “wake-up” call to Metro, and its officers.
“They put them in the same cell, gladiator style, for Jeremy Bowling to be murdered by Franklin Sharp,” she said. “The conduct of Metro is so egregious, and they had such disregard for Jeremy’s life, that they need to be held responsible.”
Sharp “was looking to kill somebody and Metro gave him this opportunity,” the lawyer continued. “What’s it going to take to wake up CCDC and let them know that they need to be responsible and care for the people in their custody?”
The lawsuit, which seeks at least $100 million for “special, general, hedonic, and compensatory damages,” along with at least $200 million in punitive damages, also names corrections officers Angelo Larry and Rolando Trevino. An original complaint also named the city of Las Vegas as a defendant, but Morton said she planned to remove the city.
Cal Potter, a Las Vegas lawyer who has handled similar wrongful death cases, said there’s no limit on how much a jury could decide to award. Punishment for punitive damages is prohibited against public entities, such as Metro, but can be sought against individuals.
“If (Morton) was able to get a verdict, it would certainly be one of the higher verdicts in that area of litigation,” Potter said. “Usually juries determine what the value of the loss is and what’s the adequate award or adequate compensation in that case.”
Contact David Ferrara at email@example.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.