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Lawsuit stemming from death of man who hanged himself in the Bowie County jail has settled but terms are confidential

by Lynn LaRowe | December 12, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

TEXARKANA, Texas -- A civil lawsuit stemming from the death of a man who hanged himself in the Bowie County jail in 2019 has settled, according to federal court records in Texarkana.

Michael Rodden, 48, hanged himself July 6, 2019, in his cell with two socks fashioned together and tied to a bolt in the window of his one-man cell, according to a death report submitted to the Texas Attorney General by Bowie County Sheriff's Office. Rodden's family filed suit against LaSalle Corrections, a private jail management company that ended its contract with Bowie County in February, in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas in March.

Also named as defendants are Bowie County, Miller County and both Texarkana, Texas, and Texarkana, Arkansas.

Hope, Arkansas, lawyer Blake Montgomery, said he cannot discuss the terms of the agreement. Montgomery represented Rodden's family with Conway, Arkansas, lawyer Travis Berry.

"It is a confidential settlement with all defendants," Montgomery said. "That's all I can say."

Rodden's family claimed Rodden made statements at the time of his arrest July 3, 2019, that should have led to placement on suicide watch in the jail and a referral for mental health services while detained.

"At the time of his arrest, he made a statement to law enforcement that he intended to commit suicide. Law enforcement officers believed him and issued a two-county wide warning to other law enforcement officers to be aware of the credible threat in the event he were to commit 'suicide by cop,'" the complaint states.

The complaint alleges that LaSalle Corrections staff failed to follow its own policies and state law during the booking process, which should have led to Rodden being designated a suicide risk. Had Rodden been tagged as at risk for self harm, his death might have been avoided, according to the complaint.

"During the entirety of Michael Rodden's detention, or during significant portions of Michael Rodden's detention, he was in possession of or had access to items with which he could have acted upon, and ultimately did act upon, his suicidal intentions, including but not limited to a pair of tube socks, along with various other unknown items," the complaint states.

The complaint also alleges LaSalle prepared documents to show that required cell checks on Rodden were performed when they were not.

"These documents have been proven to be false based on a Texas Commission on Jail Standards Special Inspection Report dated Aug. 7, 2019," the complaint states.

The complaint alleges that of the 11 checks logged as completed on Rodden between the hours of 12:30 a.m. and 8:58 a.m. on July 6, eight of the entries were false.

The complaint notes that LaSalle has had lawsuits regarding other in-custody deaths, including Michael Sabbie in 2015, Morgan Angerbauer in 2016 and Franklin Greathouse in March 2019, in Bowie County and in other jails managed by LaSalle.

Those cases alleged civil rights violations and falsified records as well.

Print Headline: Lawsuit stemming from death of man who hanged himself in the Bowie County jail has settled but terms are confidential

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