Sheriff, county cleared in case
A Mobile U.S. District Court has dismissed a case against the Escambia County Detention Center, the Escambia County Commission and Sheriff Grover Smith.
Former inmate Rodney Presley filed the case, claiming he sustained injuries to his head and is blaming unsafe conditions at the detention facility.
The lawsuit claimed that another inmate had assaulted Presley, which resulted in his injuries.
But the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department had a video of the incident Presley cites in his claim, showing Presley had assaulted another inmate by striking him from behind. At that time, Presley slipped and struck his head on the floor.
The video also showed that staff members responded in a timely manner and transported Presley to the local hospital by ambulance, Smith said.
Smith said the cost of defending the case was unfair. “That Escambia County was forced to spend money badly needed elsewhere to defend this lawsuit is the real injustice here,” he said. “While I respect the right of any person to sue in order to right a wrong, inmate Presley attempted to profit at the expense of the hard-earned taxes paid by the citizens of our county. I am pleased that after careful examination of the evidence, the court system granted the summary judgment in our favor.”
In the summary judgment, the court found Smith had consistently increased staffing at the jail as well as repaired broken locks and door hinges.
Additional security cameras had been installed throughout the center.
The court concluded that no reasonable juror would find that Smith deliberately or recklessly disregarded the safety of inmates. Court officials said while there had been isolated incidents of conflicts between inmates, there was no evidence that inmate violence was the norm, nor that the sheriff was indifferent to the situation.
Presley has 30 days to file an appeal.