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Cuyahoga County jail sued by family of man alleging it ignored suicide warnings

Lawsuit alleges suicide could have been prevented
Cuyahoga County Jail
Posted at 3:55 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 20:25:52-05

CLEVELAND — The family of a man who died of suicide while in the Cuyahoga County jail filed a lawsuit Monday alleging the jail ignored repeated warnings.

Brenden Kiekisz was arrested on Christmas Day, 2018, and was found hanging in his cell two days later.

The lawsuit alleges Kiekisz told a corrections officer during the intake process that he suffered from bipolar disorder and depression but was never examined by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or offered a mental health nurse.

In addition, the lawsuit alleges that two days later during a court hearing, Kiekisz told a judge that he was depressed, suicidal, and needed help.

Instead, he was returned to his cell where he was found later that night hanging by a blanket.

He died three days later after being taken to MetroHealth Center.

But the lawsuit alleges the death could have been prevented and key steps were ignored and never taken.

Among them, the lawsuit alleges that Kiekisz told the corrections officer when initially booked into the jail that he attempted suicide two days earlier and that he was relying on prescription medication.

But instead of being treated, the lawsuit alleges that Kiekisz was never given the medication he needed.

In addition, the lawsuit alleges Kiekisz was given a "medical" stamp indicating he had been assessed despite the fact that he was not, leading him to be placed in the jail's general population.

"What makes the tragedy of Brenden's death even more painful is the fact it was completely avoidable," his mother Paula Kiekisz said.

Paula Kiekisz added that her son, despite suffering from mental health issues, "there was no compassion--only mistakes and neglect by the jail."

The family's attorney also alleges that the corrections officer at intake had no training and previously has beaten a female inmate restrained in a chair.

"Instead of being reassigned the jail assigned him to intake--a position that he had no training for," said attorney Paul Cristallo.

A spokesperson for the county said there was "no comment and that its attorneys had not yet seen or reviewed the lawsuit."

Brenden Kiekisz was the eighth suicide that year and followed a U.S Marshall's Service investigation months earlier that found "inhumane conditions" at the jail and a "lack of mental health services."

To read the lawsuit, click here.

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