A Service of UA Little Rock
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Arkansas family sues over death of jail detainee

Randy Rogers wheezing minutes before his death in the Columbia County Jail.
Courtesy Loevy & Loevy
A screenshot from a video shows Randy Rogers wheezing minutes before his death in the Columbia County Jail.

The son of an Arkansas man is suing after his father died in police custody.

Randy Dewayne Rogers is bringing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. His father, Randy James Rogers, died from a heart attack in the Columbia County Jail on the morning of July 8, 2022.

Rogers had been arrested that May for failure to appear in court. According to the suit, he had a history of heart issues when he died. The suit argues his death was a result of negligence and civil rights violations on behalf of the county jail and local hospital.

The suit was filed Thursday by Loevy & Loevy, a civil rights firm in Chicago, against 22 defendants; this includes three jail employees, Columbia County, the sheriff's office and the local medical center.

Rogers had a heart attack the month before his arrest on May 20, 2022. Five days later, Rogers complained to jailers of chest pain and was taken to the nearby Magnolia Regional Medical Center. The suit says the jail employees were informed then by doctors about his history of heart failure.

Throughout June and into early July, Rogers complained repeatedly to jail employees about not being given blood thinner medication to prevent another heart attack.

“He went days and weeks at a time without these prescriptions,” the suit says.

At 2:00 a.m. on July 8, Rogers fell off his bunk onto a concrete floor. The suit said this fall caused bleeding and lacerations. Jail employee Stephanie Ingle asked Jail Administrator Matthew Hulet to take him to an emergency room. The suit says Hulet wondered if it was really “necessary.”

After Ingle pressed Hulet, they went back to the hospital. Dr. Phillip Pace at the Magnolia Regional Medical Center gave Rogers a CT scan for his head injury but ignored Rogers when he complained of chest pain. Rogers was sent back to the jail around 6:10 a.m.

“Given Mr. Rogers' history of heart problems and his complaints of chest pain,” the suit says. “He should have been held and monitored at the hospital.”

At 7:30 a.m., Rogers told jailers that he was having trouble breathing and that “he felt as though there was something in his throat.”

There was no medical staff in the jail at this time. He was put in the medical room while he was wheezing. On a jail video, Rogers is seen clutching his chest and gasping in pain. The suit says during this time he was in “extreme pain” and “agony.”

The jail held off on calling the ambulance despite employee Aaliyah Rose texting Hulet:

“Got Mr. Rogers back. He’s wheezing, saying he can't breathe. He thinks he's having a heart attack.”

The jail waited 25 to 30 minutes while Rogers wheezed to call the ambulance.

“By that time it was too late,” the suit said. “Mr. Rogers' heart had stopped.”

When paramedics came, they could not revive him. He was declared dead at the hospital at 8:24 a.m.

The suit lists six charges against the defendants. This includes allegations that Rogers' civil and due rights were violated. They also say the jail did not follow healthcare policies. They are also suing for medical malpractice, emotional distress and wrongful death.

Columbia County and the Columbia County Sheriff's Office could not be reached for comment. Brett Kinman, CEO of the Magnolia Regional Medical Center, told Little Rock Public Radio he did not know the lawsuit had been filed.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.