Family ends life support for inmate hurt in Wake jail altercation

rgallagher@newsobserver.comJune 19, 2013 

Shon Demetrius McClain, a Wake County Jail inmate who was injured June 4 in an altercation with a guard has died, the State Bureau of Investigation said, on Tuesday June 18, 2013.


— A Wake County jail inmate who was injured June 4 in an altercation with a guard has died after his family decided he had no hope of ever regaining consciousness and told doctors to remove life support, his attorney said.

The State Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday that attorney Jessie Jeffers of Raleigh reported Monday that Shon Demetrius McClain, 40, was dead.

“It was a family decision based on the information that the doctors had provided,” Jeffers said Tuesday.

McClain had been in WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh since the incident, which the SBI is looking into as an officer-involved case.

McClain and Detention Officer Markeith Council were involved in an altercation on the night of June 4, and McClain was taken to WakeMed afterward and had been on life support since then.

The family decided he “would not have had much quality of life,” Jeffers said, after learning McClain probably would have remained “in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.”

Council was treated for minor injuries and released, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office said. He is at work, assigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of the SBI investigation, Capt. Jimmy Stevens, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said Tuesday.

Jeffers said last week that doctors were attempting to determine if McClain was brain-dead and his family was going to have “to make a decision about his quality of life.”

McClain was the father of two teenage children and a large extended family, Jeffers said.

Raleigh police arrested McClain shortly after 11 p.m. on May 28, charging him with consuming an alcoholic beverage in the city-owned Moore Square downtown and with failure to have kept a court date for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, court records show.

After the altercation on June 4, a man who had been in jail at the time, Keith Searcy of Rockingham County, said a rumor in the jail was that McClain had suffered a seizure before Council struck McClain’s head on the floor.

Jeffers said McClain had no previously diagnosed medical condition, but he did not dispute the account of McClain’s head being struck.

McClain’s previous arrest reports list him as being 5 foot 7 inches tall and weighing 145 pounds.

Council is about 6 foot 3 inches and weighs approximately 300 pounds.

Other altercations at the jail

This is not the first time that an inmate at the detention center has been seriously injured or died as a result of confrontations with detention officers.

On May 28 – the same day that McClain was brought to the jail – another inmate was reportedly assaulted. The officer involved, Jamaal Covington, was fired the next day for conduct unbecoming an officer, Stevens reported.

The state investigated an April 3, 2011, altercation at the jail that left inmate Joshua Wrenn, 29, unable to speak, walk or feed himself. The SBI determined that corrections officer Michael Hayes struck the man in the head with his fist.

But Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby did not press charges against the officer because Hayes and another officer who says he witnessed the altercation accused Wrenn of attacking Hayes. Wrenn was unarmed.

One inmate OD’d

In addition, the state Department of Health and Human Services’ Jail and Detention Section said the jail did not provide adequate supervision for Ralph Madison Stockton IV, who was found unresponsive on a jail mat the morning of Nov. 6, 2012. Jailers are supposed to observe inmates at least twice an hour to make sure they are alive, but the state said Stockton had been unobserved for 62 minutes.

An autopsy later found that Stockton overdosed on a combination of drugs, many of which he gulped as a sheriff’s deputy searched his car trunk in a traffic stop for suspected driving while impaired.

Gallagher: 919-829-4527

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