Maricopa County will pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit over the death of a blind, disabled man who died after a jail altercation with a sheriff’s detention officer.
Brian Crenshaw, a 40-year-old Phoenix man, died of complications from a ruptured intestine in 2003 after being held in solitary confinement at the Estrella jail for six days, according to Michael Manning, who represents Crenshaw’s parents.
The case was settled Friday with the county agreeing to pay, Manning said. The trial in the case was to begin with jury selection this week.
Manning blamed jail officers for the injury that led to Crenshaw’s death.
But Jack MacIntyre, deputy chief in the custody bureau of the sheriff’s office, said whatever caused Crenshaw’s intestine to rupture occurred after he was taken to the county hospital with neck injuries after falling from his bunk.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors decided to settle the case, MacIntyre said.
Crenshaw was picked up for shoplifting about March 2003. Because he was blind and mentally disabled, jail doctors warned that he should not be confined in Tent City, Manning said.
Jail officials ignored that warning and put him in the tents, where he got into a scuffle with a detention officer, according to Manning.
Crenshaw was handcuffed and taken to the Estrella jail, where he was shoved into a table by a detention officer and later put into solitary confinement, Manning said.
While he was in solitary confinement, Crenshaw did not receive painkillers and medications to treat his mental problems that had been ordered by jail doctors, Manning said.
Jail records also indicated he was only offered food twice in six days, Manning said.
After six days in solitary confinement, Crenshaw fell from his bunk and sustained neck injuries. He was taken to Maricopa Medical Center, where he died on April 15, 2003.
MacIntyre said there was no indication Crenshaw had intestinal problems when he was sent to the hospital, where he spent more than a month before dying.
Manning disputed MacIntyre’s version of Crenshaw’s condition when he left the jail. Crenshaw complained of abdominal pain shortly after he was shoved into the table on March 7, 2003, Manning said.
The intestinal rupture also was identified when Crenshaw was taken to the hospital, said Manning, adding the death certificate also says Crenshaw died of complications from blunt force trauma.
“Nobody beat him up at the hospital,” Manning said. “Somebody beat him up.”
Manning represents Crenshaw’s parents, Kim Crenshaw and Linda Evans, who sued both the sheriff and the county Department of Correctional Health Services in 2004.