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Mentally Ill Detainee Allegedly Tasered and Starved to Death At South Carolina Jail

A suit removed to federal court for the District of South Carolina on December 15, 2023, accuses Bamberg County and its jailers of Tasering a 51-year-old mentally ill detainee and starving him to death the year before. The jail medical contractor, Southern Healthcare Partners (SHP), was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

After Alan R. Thibodeau went missing from his mother’s out-of-state home in February 2022, he was found back in South Carolina, trespassing in a local house “to have a place to stay and keep warm,” as he explained to responding law enforcement. Deputies of first-term county Sheriff Kenny Bamberg, who is also the first Black person elected to the position, arrested Thibodeau for burglary. But a state Health Department evaluation concluded that he likely had untreated symptoms of mental illness. The county court then ordered Thibodeau sent to G. Werber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital for competency restoration.

However, when he died five months later in July 2022, Thibodeau had never left the jail. He had never received his mental health or diabetes prescription medications, either, though jailers were told about them. Worse, his 178-pound body had shriveled to just 110 pounds. Jail surveillance video captured guards Tasering him as he lay naked in his own feces. “Please don’t judge us,” begged one unidentified guard, who explained that Thibodeau “always fights us, so we kinda just leave him.”

The complaint was filed in November 2023 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in state Court of Common Pleas by the dead man’s brother, Edwin Thibodeau, with the help of attorneys with Evans Moore LLC, who claimed that his death “would have been prevented” if jailers had provided the detainee with “adequate hydration, nourishment, and medical intervention.” Defendant SHP nurse Geri Gillespie then removed the suit to federal court, where it remains pending. A confidentiality order has been issued, but PLN will update developments as they are available. See: Thibodeau v. Bamberg Cty., USDC (D.S.C.), Case No. 6:23-cv-06605.


Additional source: The State

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Related legal case

Thibodeau v. Bamberg Cty.