Missouri County Settles Wrongful Death For $1.2M

The parents of a mentally ill 21-year-old man will get a settlement from the second-largest county in Missouri. The man allegedly shouted, “I can’t breathe,” while being restrained by prison personnel and later died in a restraint chair, as detailed in a complaint.

Marquis Wagner’s payment for his death in 2021 was authorized Monday by the Kansas City-based Jackson County Legislature. According to Wagner’s parents’ lawyer, John Picerno, inmate surveillance footage showed what happened just before Wagner died.

Three corrections officers and two health care providers with whom the county has contracts were named in the case. There is a single agreement with Jackson County.

The trial in the lawsuit between the two businesses is set for September.

On December 9, 2021, Wagner was taken into custody on charges related to an alleged break-in at his Kansas City residence. He fired a gun into his door, trying to keep burglars from breaking in. The cops found no evidence of an attempted break-in. At the time, Wagner informed authorities that he had been seeing demons and hadn’t slept in days. The complaint also asserted that he was undergoing alcohol detoxification.

Around 11 a.m. on December 10, Wagner was booked into the intake lobby of the Jackson County Detention Center. A year ago, he filed a complaint claiming that, despite showing signs of mental health concerns, he was not evaluated for his condition.

Instead, the complaint claims that Wagner remained alone in a cell for eight hours, unsupplied with food and drink. The complaint claimed that he displayed bizarre conduct throughout that period, including talking to imaginary persons and consuming toilet paper off the floor.

Later that night, several corrections officers broke into Wagner’s cell and took him down. The plaintiff “felt like he was on fire” and “he was going to die” as he yelled out, “I can’t breathe,” according to the complaint.

A “suicide smock” was placed over Wagner’s clothes to prevent the convict from self-harm. Wagner was also shackled. The plaintiff said in their claim that he was, after that, restrained to a chair and reiterated his previous complaint of difficulty breathing.

As stated in the complaint, despite being brought to a nurse’s station, Wagner was allegedly not checked before being sent to a holding cell. The plaintiff claims that thirty minutes later, he seemed to pass out on camera; nonetheless, no one came to check on him, and he was moved to another cell while still seemingly asleep, as seen in the surveillance footage.

Wagner was dead.

The parents are to receive $1.2 million in their settlement.