NORWALK, Calif. – The parents of a 28-year-old man who died in custody in a jail cell at the Pico Rivera sheriff’s station in 2022 are suing Los Angeles County, alleging he was not given medical care that could have saved his life even though he showed signs of needing help.
Leland Richard Barnett and Kimberly Lamb, the father and mother of the late Leland William Barnett, allege wrongful death, negligence and civil rights violations. The couple seek unspecified damages in the Norwalk Superior Court lawsuit.
An LASD representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Tuesday.
Barnett was taken into custody last about 5 p.m. last July 5 after he was involved in a domestic dispute, the suit states. A GoFundMe page set up after Barnett died states that the altercation involved his domestic partner and that Barnett “suffered severe trauma from the community he lived in after disclosing he was gay.”
Barnett complained about head and hip pain and hip pain when he was arrested, according to the suit, which further states that deputies were either aware or should have known that he was under the influence of drugs and may have suffered from an unknown medical problem.
Barnett was placed into a cell by himself about 7 p.m. and was checked the next morning about 4:30 a.m., but no one determined whether he was breathing, the suit states. Some 30 minutes later, Barnett was found unresponsive and lying on his right side on a bed, then deputies turned him on his back and saw foam on his mouth, according to the suit.
Medical personnel pronounced Barnett dead, the suit states. Deputies knew or had reason to be aware he needed medical care earlier, but disregarded his condition because of poor training, the suit alleges.
Barnett’s parents have lost their son’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society and moral support, the suit states.
“While he made his share of mistakes, he was still our boy and loved so dearly,” the GoFundMe page states. “He loved everyone he met and treated others with respect and dignity. His laugh could melt you and his love for family, friends, etc. ran so deep. He just cared so much for others.”