Mother files suit over jailed man's death

The mother of an inmate who became deathly ill while being held in the Richmond County jail has sued the sheriff and county.

Loretta Harris filed the U.S. District Court lawsuit this week on behalf of her son, Antonio M. Broomer, 36, who was wrongfully held in jail for several months until his death in April 2007.

Agent Charles Kicklighter of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it has closed its case on Mr. Broomer's death. No criminal charges were brought in the matter, according to court records.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said Thursday he couldn't discuss the allegations raised in pending litigation. A civil lawsuit represents only one side of a dispute.

Mr. Broomer was arrested Sept. 23, 2006, on forgery charges and could not make the $6,000 bond.

Three months later, the Richmond County grand jury decided not to indict him. Mr. Broomer should have been released, but the proper documentation wasn't sent from the District Attorney's Office.

In 2007, District Attorney Daniel Craig, now a Superior Court judge, told The Augusta Chronicle a clerical error was to blame. A computer program continued to show Mr. Broomer's case was pending indictment.

Sheriff Strength said Thursday that jailers cannot release anyone without the proper paperwork.

According to the federal lawsuit, Mr. Broomer, 36, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. On April 8, 2007, four months after he should have been released, Mr. Broomer was in the jail's special needs unit. He was given medication to treat his mental illness, according to the lawsuit, and he was also given anti-seizure medication he did not need.

At 5:15 a.m., Mr. Broomer was found naked and face-down on his bunk. A nurse recorded his pulse at 43 beats per minute. His temperature was so low she could not get a reading, according to the suit. Mr. Broomer was taken to University Hospital, where he died 12 hours later.

According to the lawsuit Mr. Broomer was diagnosed with sepsis and hypothermia. Fluid in the lungs indicated pneumonia and adult respiratory distress syndrome, the lawsuit contends.

Mr. Broomer's mother is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.