THE INVESTIGATORS: Federal wrongful death lawsuit filed against WBR sheriff, insurance company

THE INVESTIGATORS: Federal wrongful death lawsuit filed against WBR sheriff, insurance company

(WAFB) - A federal lawsuit has been filed against the West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes and the sheriff’s office’s insurance company according to documents provided by Baton Rouge attorney Ron Haley.

A former inmate, Darius Craig, died back on August 26, 2019 and his death was ruled a suicide. The lawsuit alleges wrongful death and false imprisonment with family members of the inmate claiming the sheriff’s office violated Craig’s rights.

A copy of Darius Craig's autopsy report was obtained through a public records request. The report shows officials determined Craig committed suicide.
A copy of Darius Craig's autopsy report was obtained through a public records request. The report shows officials determined Craig committed suicide. (Source: Ron Haley)
A preliminary cause of death identified in an autopsy report shows officials determined Darius Craig died of asphyxiation by hanging.
A preliminary cause of death identified in an autopsy report shows officials determined Darius Craig died of asphyxiation by hanging. (Source: Ron Haley)

The family claims Craig should have been released 10 days before his death. He was incarcerated for domestic abuse battery.

“He should be here,” said his wife Tierra Craig.

Haley represents the man’s family and says authorities in Texas missed a deadline to extradite him on a different violation.

“We received documentation by way of the waiver extradition which was signed by my client and the judge allotted to the case indicating that Harris County had 10 days to pick him up, otherwise he was to be released,” said Haley.

He says the family also questions whether Craig actually killed himself. Based on text messages shared with the 9News Investigators, the former inmate had run into some issues during his stay in prison.

“I’m sorry to say but I’ve been put back in H block since yesterday night,” the message reads. “ When it comes down to people calling me everything by my name and threatening to harm me, I had to defend myself.”

Text messages from Darius Craig appear to show he had some type of confrontation while in custody, family says. are questioning the a report that
Text messages from Darius Craig appear to show he had some type of confrontation while in custody, family says. are questioning the a report that (Source: Ron Haley)
Text messages from Darius Craig appear to show he had some type of confrontation while in custody, family says.
Text messages from Darius Craig appear to show he had some type of confrontation while in custody, family says. (Source: Ron Haley)

Craig’s family says his death is suspicious and tells WAFB the lawsuit is necessary to get to the bottom of what happened. They say he was looking forward to getting out of the West Baton Rouge Parish Jail. They believe he would not have taken his own life.

“A person that is anxiously awaiting his removal from the environment that he is in right now doesn’t take his life,” said Haley. “That doesn’t make sense.”

Their attorneys also question how things were handled. The EMS report shows he died at 7:45 p.m., more than an hour after he was found on August 26, 2019. The ambulance records given to the 9News Investigators reveal Craig was found and given CPR around 6:11 p.m. but emergency crews were not called until 6:53 p.m., according to those same records.

WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked Haley if he believes the case would have had a different outcome if staff at the jail had called for help right away.

“I think you have to assume so,” Haley answered. “The fact that they were able to get a pulse at least at some point from 6:11 to 6:45, I don’t understand immediately after finding him in that situation how emergency services weren’t called.”

“These sort of inconsistencies definitely cause us to want to delve deeper into our client’s death," Dedrick Moore, the family’s other attorney added.

While no amount of money will bring her husband back, Tierra says answers will help.

“I literally dedicate my life to this,” she said. “Every day I’m trying to figure out what happened to my husband.”

As they fight to find out exactly what happened to the love of her life, she is just hoping for some sort of closure.

“However long it takes for my husband to find justice and to actually know what happened to him, I’m willing to wait,” she added.

WAFB did reach out to a spokesman for the West Baton Rouge sheriff’s office for comment on this story. We are still waiting to hear back at this time.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.