Wrongful death lawsuit filed against sheriff's office officials

Mar 9, 2018

The family of a Bristol County House of Correction inmate who committed suicide in 2015 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and several named and unnamed sheriff’s office employees.

The lawsuit was filed in Bristol Superior Court by Barbara A. Kice. She is the mother of Brandon St. Pierre, who committed suicide inside a segregated cell at the Dartmouth jail on May 6, 2015. The lawsuit names Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, Corrections Officer Dylan Bedard, and two unnamed deputy sheriffs as defendants.

According to the lawsuit, it is alleged that St. Pierre arrived at the jail on April 21, 2015 as a pre-trial detainee. On May 5, a court hearing to determine competency to stand trial was held, and during that hearing St. Pierre told a doctor he would commit suicide if he was not transferred out of the jail.

The doctor and an Attleboro District Court judge felt the thoughts should be taken seriously, and designed St. Pierre a “Q5,” meaning he is a suicide risk, on paperwork sent to the sheriff’s office that day.

The lawsuit alleges that despite knowing St. Pierre was a suicide risk, the sheriff’s office did not follow its own protocols and procedures, and housed St. Pierre alone in a cell in segregation. He was allegedly only checked in on every 30 minutes by Bedard. It is alleged that no steps were taken to make the cell suicide proof.

Additional paperwork was allegedly sent to the sheriff’s office on May 6 recommending St. Pierre’s transfer to a different jail, which again carried the Q5 designation. St. Pierre died on May 6.

The lawsuit lists counts of wrongful death, conscious pain and suffering, and violations of St. Pierre's Constitutional rights.

Jonathan Darling, public information officer for the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, declined to comment on specifics of the lawsuit because the sheriff’s office has not yet received it. He said sheriff’s office personnel followed all policies and procedures in place.

“Our staff acted appropriately and we are confident a judge will agree,” Darling said.

St. Pierre's suicide was included in an internal review of suicides at Bristol County jails, covering May 2015 to June 2017. The sheriff's office implemented numerous steps to better prevent suicide attempts, including physical building alternations like bigger windows in observation cells, to upping its mental health staff.

It is one of four wrongful death lawsuits currently pending against the sheriff’s office, however not all of the lawsuits involve suicide of inmates.