Jefferson County settles jail-death suit

Published: October 15, 2004
Associated Press
Original Article

BREMERTON — Jefferson County has agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle a lawsuit filed over an inmate’s death while in restraints at the county jail.

Kevin Wayne Bledsoe, 23, died in 2001. His parents sued the county in federal court, alleging he was the victim of excessive force and gross mishandling by officers.

“Kevin Bledsoe lost his life after members of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office sprayed him in the face with pepper spray, tied him up in a controversial ‘hog-tie’ position using a homemade rope, put a hood over his injured and bleeding head, brought him to the Jefferson County jail rather than to a hospital, and held him face down on the floor of an isolation cell until he suddenly went limp and lost consciousness,” the lawsuit says.

Instead of getting him medical aid, the officers removed his clothing and left him lying face down in a pool of blood, the lawsuit said.

Bledsoe was arrested after a fight in a supermarket parking lot. He had recently moved to Port Hadlock from Texas.

The other parties did not agree to the facts as presented by the plaintiffs.

Former County Administrator David Goldsmith, who handled the case for the county after his retirement, declined comment except to say the county did not consider it an “excessive force” case.

None of the officers involved was disciplined after an investigation by the Clallam County Sheriff’s office.

Methamphetamine was found in Bledsoe’s system, and an independent pathologist at the time ruled his death accidental, caused by the drug and an existing heart condition. The lawsuit challenged that finding.

The county will pay $10,000 out of pocket, Goldsmith said. The rest of the settlement is covered by the county’s risk insurance pool.

Budge & Heipt is a law firm committed to obtaining justice for victims and their families who have suffered wrongful death or catastrophic injury due to police brutality and police misconduct in jail or prison. For cases such as wrongful death by police suffocation or asphyxia, Budge & Heipt can help. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

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