Corrections officers are sued after Ionia County inmate death

Posted at 12:18 PM, May 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-07 19:53:01-04

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — At least three Michigan Department of Corrections officers at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility are being sued after an inmate died from alleged water intoxication.

According to court documents, the MDOC officers are accused of “deliberate indifference” in the case of Kevin Dalstra, a man with schizophrenia who died at the correctional facility April 8, 2014.    Dalstra was transferred to the facility in November 2013 after being sentenced for first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Newaygo County, according to online jail records.

Prior to his death, the lawsuit alleges that Dalstra’s medications were changed and numerous jail employees declined to get him the medical help he needed as he began behaving erratically.

According to court documents, Dalstra began rubbing soap in his eyes in the shower and began drinking copious amounts of water on April 6.   Dalstra’s water was shut off and a psychologist was contacted; the psychologist later put him on suicide watch, the lawsuit says.

Dalstra’s behavior continued to become more erratic, and he started rubbing feces in his eyes during a visit with the psychologist, according to court documents.   After that visit, corrections officers turned his water back on and he continued drinking it excessively, the lawsuit alleges.

He continued to behave bizarrely, defecating on himself, vomiting, removing his clothes and continuing to drink large amounts of water.  On the morning of April 8, he was found unresponsive in his cell and later pronounced dead from water intoxication, according to court documents.

Dalstra’s estate alleges that the corrections officers disregarded his erratic behavior and failed to take action to prevent him from harming himself.   The lawsuit directly names three employees by their last names: corrections officers Palmer and Summers and Lt. McDonald.  It also names “Unknown Corrections Officers.”

His estate is seeking damages in excess of $75,000.