Mom gets $2M for jail death of intellectually disabled son

May 1, 2023, 2:32 PM

Cheyenna Beauford, left, hugs her mother, Tiffany Marsh, before Marsh speaks at a news conference, ...

Cheyenna Beauford, left, hugs her mother, Tiffany Marsh, before Marsh speaks at a news conference, Monday, May 1, 2023, in downtown Denver, over a settlement reached in the death of Marsh's son while in police custody nearly a decade earlier, in Mesa County, Colo. Mesa County paid $1.6 million and a private health contractor paid $400,000 to settle the case, which stems from a civil rights violation in 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — When Tomas Beauford was arrested after getting into a fight at a group home for intellectually disabled people in 2014, a device he wore around his wrist to help regulate his seizures was confiscated as if it were jewelry when he got to jail, according to a lawsuit filed by his mother. When he refused to take an array of medications there for his epilepsy and mental illness, he was allowed to skip them even though he had the mental capacity of a 5-year-old, the lawsuit said.

Nearly a decade after Beauford was found dead in his cell after allegedly suffering multiple seizures behind bars, lawyers for Tiffany Marsh announced Monday that she won a $2 million settlement with Mesa County and the health care company which the county had hired to provide medical care for people housed at its jail.

Her lawsuit alleged that jail workers did not provide Beauford medical attention after witnessing his seizures during a six-week stay in jail. He was found dead on April 16, 2014, his body on the ground and his head wedged inside the bottom shelf of a desk in his cell, after deputies had witnessed him having seizures in the hours before, according to Marsh’s lawsuit.

“It’s just like they gave up on my kid completely,” said Marsh, who had urged jail staff to try offering her son Sprite or root beer to coax him take his medications, as she had.

One of her lawyers, David Lane, said Beauford, who had an IQ of 52, should never have been put in jail in the first place. He said police should have just diffused the situation at the group home and then allowed staffers to handle things.

“Once the machine gets turned on, stopping the machine is almost impossible,” he said, referring to the criminal justice system.

Under the settlement, no one was disciplined for Beauford’s death, Lane said. The county did not admit any wrongdoing but did agree to place a plaque with Beauford’s photo on it in the lobby of the jail so those who work there will see it every day. The county has also promised to provide annual trainings on inmates who refuse to take medication, intellectually disabled inmates and recognizing and treating seizures.

The current Mesa County sheriff, Todd Rowell, also wrote a letter of apology to Marsh as part of the deal.

“We take our responsibilities seriously and while it may be difficult to find any positive from the loss of a loved one, please know we have examined and will continue to look for ways to improve ourselves, our policies and procedures to make sure that all life is respected and cared for to the best of our ability,” he wrote.

Mesa County agreed to pay $1.6 million under the settlement and Correctional Health Care Companies, Inc., which is now part of Wellpath, paid $400,000.

The county and Wellpath did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the settlement.

National News

Associated Press

Neil Goldschmidt, former Oregon governor who confessed to sex with a minor in the 1970s, has died

Neil Goldschmidt, a former Oregon governor whose confession that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s blackened what had been a nearly sterling reputation, has died. He was 83. Goldschmidt died at his Portland home on Wednesday, The Oregonian reported, according to family members. The newspaper said the reported cause was heart […]

20 minutes ago

Associated Press

Man charged with robbing a California bank was released from prison a day earlier, prosecutors say

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A man charged with taking three people hostage while robbing a Southern California bank last month had been released from prison a day earlier, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The 53-year-old was indicted on robbery charges after investigators said he claimed to have a gun, jumped over the teller counter and […]

26 minutes ago

Associated Press

South Carolina man pleads guilty in federal court to fatally shooting Virginia police officer

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A South Carolina man pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday in the shooting death of a police officer in southwest Virginia in 2021. Michael Donivan White, 36, of Cross, South Carolina, had already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges in state court. The federal counts include drug charges and causing the […]

46 minutes ago

Associated Press

Democrats in Congress say federal mediators should let airline workers strike when it’s ‘necessary’

A group of 32 senators say federal mediators should speed up labor negotiations between airlines and their flight attendants and other workers, even granting them permission to go on strike “as necessary.” The lawmakers said Wednesday that airlines feel no pressure to reach contract agreements quickly because federal law makes it difficult for airline workers […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Tennessee sheriff indicted for profiting from inmate labor, misusing funds

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The sheriff of a rural Tennessee county illegally profited from the work of jail inmates under his supervision and housed dozens of them in a home outside of the prison without permission, officials said Wednesday. Gibson County Sheriff Paul Thomas was indicted in May in Gibson and Davidson counties on 22 […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Federal judge who presided over R. Kelly trial dead at 87 after battling lung cancer

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who presided over singer R. Kelly’s trial on child sex abuse charges, has died. He was 87. Leinenweber died Tuesday evening, the eastern division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois said in a statement. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Leinenweber had been diagnosed with lung […]

5 hours ago

Mom gets $2M for jail death of intellectually disabled son