A Northland woman says her husband's death while serving time in a county jail was preventable and now she's filing a wrongful death suit.
Janet Harris' husband, Timothy Harris, went to jail on May 8 after helping her purchase a gun. Maysville, MO, police arrested him because he had a prior felony for concealing a legally purchased weapon in 2010. It's illegal to possess or purchase a gun if you are a convicted felon.
"A bunch of cops came rushing out of a church. Two of them tased him at the same time," Janet Harris said of the May 8 arrest.
Police sent him to the Daviess/DeKalb Regional Jail where Janet Harris says he started to get really sick.
"He wasn't breathing normal. He had lost so much weight," she said.
According to the lawsuit filed against the jail, Timothy Harris told his wife he was being held in a cell without a toilet, running water or a sink. Fellow inmates used their prison money to call Janet Harris to tell her to contact 911 and that her husband wasn't breathing.
"He had been coughing up blood for a week, a week and a half before they even decided they were going to attempt to take him to the hospital," she said.
Twenty-five days later, Timothy Harris died on the way to the hospital.
"The doctor took me aside and told me it's the worst case of pneumonia she had ever seen. About three-quarters of his lungs were filled with infection and he didn't make it," Janet Harris said.
Her attorney, Michele Puckett, said the jail waited too long to get Timothy Harris to a doctor.
"Even if he would have been convicted of the crime that he was set up for, his sentence wasn't death," Puckett said.
Jail Administrator Bob Gray said he cannot comment because of the pending litigation. He wouldn't tell KCTV5 whether the jail is conducting an internal investigation.
Janet Harris believes police beat her husband and he succumbed to complications from his injuries. She claims her husband was mistreated because he had criticized law enforcement on social media.
An autopsy report has not yet been released.
Timothy Harris, 36, was a father to three daughters and, according to family, had no prior health problems.
The family is seeking monetary damages, attorney fees, medical and funeral expenses. The case has been referred to the Mediation and Assessment Program for possible negotiation.
Timothy Harris has a criminal history in Missouri dating back to 2007, with charges including unlawful use of a weapon, domestic assault and resisting arrest.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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