After Jaron Thomas died in police custody, his family is now filing a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the Columbus Division of Police.
Thomas, a Columbus native who had three kids, died January 23 at Riverside Methodist Hospital. He was 36.
Sean Walton, the attorney representing his family, says Thomas was a paranoid schizophrenic who had been hallucinating after ingesting cocaine when he called police on January 14.
“After his call for help - that call for help was very calm, very polite, very respectful - at some point the police responded," Walton says. "And instead of transferring him to NetCare, he ended up beaten.”
The complaint says police punched, body-slammed and kneed Thomas, causing him to lose consciousness. Walton says the family is seeking more than $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as to require updated training for officers dealing with mentally ill individuals.
“He suffered several broken ribs, head and body contusion, blood-clotting in his sternum and other injuries,” Walton says. “So his injuries don't coincide with the Columbus Police statement that they used minimal force on him.”
The Franklin County Coroner's Office ruled that Thomas' death was accidental and caused by a lack of oxygen flow to in his brain. They attributed the lack of oxygen flow to cocaine toxicity and cardiac arrest.
Columbus Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.