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$425,000 Settlement in Arkansas Detainee’s Death from Asthma Attack

Sharon L. Alexander, 41, was arrested on December 13, 2016, for robbery after a scuffle with a store loss prevention clerk, tried to prevent the theft of $234.16 in clothing. Alexander was taken to the Pulaski County Jail. A medical intake form showed she was 100% disabled, suffered from sickle cell anemia, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. She possessed an asthma pump upon arrest, but it was taken from her upon booking.

After she was booked, Alexander was placed in a cell. Late the next morning, Guard Eddie Turner watched three other detainees assist Alexander down the stairs of the cell block. He had Alexander sit down, and she told him she suffered from sickle cell, was cold, and had been throwing up. Turner called for medical assistance, but a nurse later told him that would be checked the next day. Detainee Paradise Williams helped Alexander complete the form, which included a request that she be provided her asthma pump “ASAP.”

About seven hours later, Alexander started convulsing and wheezing loudly in her cell. Medical assistance was called and resuscitation efforts ensued, but they failed. Alexander was taken to a hospital and was pronounced dead at 11:02 p.m. An autopsy concluded she died of Acute Asthma Exacerbation.

Alexander’s estate, represented by attorney Austin Porter, Jr., sued. A settlement was reached on June 1, 2019. It provides for Pulaski County to pay $50,000 and for Turn Key Health Clinics to pay $375,000.

The jail also changed its policy to require detainees to get inhalers immediately and get a refill immediately if no contraband is found in the prescription device. See: Alexander v. Pulaski County, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Ark.), Case no. 4:18-cv-0046.) 

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Related legal case

Alexander v. Pulaski County