JACKSON COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – The Jackson County Prosecutor Jeffrey A. Chalfant said that the death of Joshua A. McLemore, an inmate at the Jackson County Jail, was most likely due to a prolonged lack of attention by the Jackson Jail staff as a group. However, he also found that no crimes were committed by employees of the Jackson County Jail related to the death of McLemore.
Prosecutor Chalfant released his findings regarding the death of McLemore in an investigation report. The prosecutors summary also included a review of the Indiana State Police’s investigation.
In his report, the prosecutor said, “The Jackson County Prosecutor also agrees with the Indiana State Police investigator that no single person committed an act or omission that constituted a crime, and that Mr. McLemore most likely died due to a prolonged lack of attention by Jackson County Jail staff as a group.”
McLemore was schizophrenic and bipolar. He was arrested and charged with battery resulting in bodily injury to a public safety official, resisting law enforcement, and leaving the scene of an accident on May 25, 2021. He was released from jail on June 25th after posting bail.
On July 20, 2021, he was arrested at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, Jackson County, Indiana for battery against a public safety official and criminal mischief.
On July 29, 2021, McLemore’s attorney filed a Motion to Determine Competency and for Insanity Evaluation.
McLemore was hospitalized at the Schneck Medical Center, the same medical center he was arrested at, on August 8, 2021. He was transferred to the Mercy West Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio on August 9 after medical staff determined his condition was critical.
McLemore died on August 10, 2021 at the Mercy West hospital. According to his autopsy report, his cause of death was multiple organ failure, refusal to eat or drink with altered mental status, and unrelated Schizophrenia.
The report said the time between the onset of his organ failure and his death was days. The Jackson County Jail failed to notice McLemore’s condition earlier despite him living in a “constant state of disarray” during his 20-day stay at the jail, according to the prosecutors report.
According to the summary of ISP’s investigation, McLemore’s behavior was very erratic during his stay at the jail. He rarely slept, ate, or drank. Reviewed video from inside his cell showed McLemore slept for only an estimated 15 hours of his 20 day incarceration.
Video review also showed McLemore accepted approximately 32 meals from the tray pass in his cell door. The meals he did not retrieve from the tray pass were taken away by jail staff. He would usually destroy the dinner bags and dump the food on the cell floor. McLemore ate very little when he did eat. The police summary says McLemore lost 44.8 lbs. during his incarceration.
McLemore frequently urinated in his cell. He also stayed naked during his incarceration because he was not able to dress himself and jail staff was unable to dress him in the jail issued smock. Police say he would spill and throw his food on the floor and walls and tear up the paper bags and the Styrofoam trays and cups his food and drinks were served in. He was consistently covered in food, drinks, trash, and urine because he would lie on the floor and roll around. Observations from jail staff and Emergency Medical Technicians said that both inmate McLemore and his cell smelled of urine.
McLemore’s cell was cleaned only three times during his 20 day incarceration. He showered only twice. The report says that after his cell was cleaned, McLemore would quickly make it dirty again. Police were told by the jail in their investigation that McLemore’s cell had a restroom attached to it, through a locked door that would be unlocked at the inmate’s request to use the restroom or shower.
McLemore did not ever ask for access to the restroom or shower. He was given access to the restroom on one occasion during his 20-day incarceration for a few hours. Although he did venture into the restroom area, he did not use the restroom.
The ISP investigator that said McLemore most likely died due to a prolonged lack of attention by Jackson Jail staff as a group. They also said that they believed there was no evidence of a knowing, intentional, or reckless act and that no single person committed an act or omission that constituted a crime.
The ISP investigator explained to the prosecutor that the jail employees responsible for watching the video screens that display the inside of inmates cells were typically also responsible for responding to call box communications from all inmates in the jail, locking and unlocking all doors in the jail, booking in and booking out inmates, processing paperwork, and other assorted daily responsibilities. The jail employees also rotated among watching the video screen and other duty assignments throughout their work shifts every four hours. This means that anyone watching the video screen that showed the inside of McLemore’s cell would be watching for four hours and would have no knowledge of what happened in his cell before and after their four duty assignment of watching the video screen. The investigator also said that many jail employees saw McLemore every day and did not see a change until near the end.
The prosecutor said jail staff did note that McLemore wasn’t eating, that his cell was a mess, that he was dirty, and that he was largely nonresponsive when they spoke to him. However, the jail staff did not connect this information together to realize that McLemore needed medical attention.
Because ISP and the Jackson County Prosecutor found no evidence of a knowing, intentional, or reckless act, the case is being considered civil and not criminal.
“’Negligence’ is essentially a breach of a reasonable duty of care owed by a person or entity to another person.” said the prosecutor in his report.
The investigation into McLemore’s death took nine months to complete.