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Jackson County settles $1.2M wrongful death lawsuit involving man in restraint chair

Marquis Wagner, 21, died while in Jackson County Detention Center
Marquis Wagner
Posted at 8:55 PM, Dec 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-12 16:47:27-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County has settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $1.2 million dollars with the family of a 21 year old man who died after being placed in a restraint chair in the jail.

According to the lawsuit, this all started in December 2021, when the man who died, Marquis Wagner, was arrested for shooting through the door of his own apartment.

At the time, he reportedly told police he thought someone was breaking into his home. But, upon review, Kansas City police checked surveillance and didn't see any signs of an intruder.

An attorney for the family believes Wagner was having a mental health episode, noting he claimed he was "seeing demons," and said he was going through alcohol withdrawal when he was arrested and taken to the Jackson County Correctional Center.

The lawsuit points to surveillance video in the jail, claiming that shows Wagner exhibiting signs of medical distress, including "difficulty communicating with staff" and "appearing to be in need of medical care."

Despite this, an attorney for Wagner's father says the Wagner's vitals were never taken.

"And had they taken his vital signs and seen what was going on with his body, in terms of his body temperature, his blood pressure, his heart rate, all of those things, he would've, those vital signs would've shown that he needed medical attention, and he needed it quickly," Attorney John Picerno, who represented Wagner's family, said.

Instead, the lawsuit shows Wagner was placed in handcuffs, repeatedly telling corrections officers "I can't breathe" and "I'm about to die," before being placed in a restraint chair in a holding cell.

During the next half hour, the lawsuit alleges he appeared to lose consciousness and stop moving and breathing.

When staff members went and checked on him attempts were made to resuscitate him, but he was ultimately pronounced dead.

The lawsuit named Department of Corrections employees, a nurse, Maxim Healthcare Staffing Services (the entity that provided the nurse) and Advanced Correctional Healthcare, INC, the company the County contracted with to provide healthcare services to inmates.

This settlement was reached with the county, indicating the corrections guards. The other defendants are still headed to trial which is scheduled for next September.

KSHB 41 reached out to a Jackson County spokesperson for comment on the settlement, but as of Monday evening, we have not yet heard back.