Court: US District Court - Southern District of Florida
Claim(s): Excessive force; Deliberate indifference; Wrongful death; Americans with Disabilities Act
Kevin Desir had been in custody of the Broward County Jail for four days when, on January 17, 2021, he suffered a mental health crisis. Though initially called to intervene in Mr. Desir’s self-harm, six Broward County Sheriff’s deputies fatally attacked him and failed to provide medical treatment as Wellpath medical personnel looked on without intervention.
Mr. Desir was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and despite the fact that Broward County Jail specifically detains individuals with physical and mental disabilities as well as those with mental health problems, corrections staff responded with excessive force—tasing, punching, and choking Mr. Desir.
The deputies used a taser, pepper spray, and other forms of excessive force, including one deputy who repeatedly beat Mr. Desir’s face with closed fists. After pinning him to the ground and dragging him across his cell, deputies forced Mr. Desir into a restraint chair, as one deputy held him in a prolonged chokehold. It was only after Mr. Desir went limp and became unresponsive that deputies checked his pulse for the first time. Mr. Desir was brought to the hospital, where he remained on a ventilator until he died ten days later from asphyxiation caused by the chokehold.
Kevin Desir’s death is one particularly egregious case among far too many others who have and continue to suffer due to the brutal treatment and constitutionally deficient medical and mental health care provided by Broward County Jail and Wellpath Management.
Broward County Jail has an extensive history of using excessive force and providing inadequate medical care, resulting in a 1995 consent decree. Despite this consent decree, Broward County Jail continues to violate the constitutional rights of the people it incarcerates. Wellpath Management has a similar record of needless death and inadequate care, a concern that was raised when Broward County Jail contracted with them in 2018. At the time, there were no less than 24 federal lawsuits related to inmate deaths and 145 federal lawsuits related to negligent care.
As the Desir family seeks justice for a man who was a beloved father, son, and brother, this case aims to ensure no other families will be forced to endure such a loss. By holding Broward Sheriff’s Office and Wellpath Management accountable, their hope is to prevent these actors from continuing their pattern of fatal abuse.
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