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Lawsuit accuses Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office of 'deliberate indifference' in death at jail

Mecklenburg County Jail
Lisa Worf
Mecklenburg County Jail

A federal lawsuit accuses the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office of ”deliberate indifference” in the death of a jail inmate three years ago and a pattern of such indifference that’s gone on for years.

The lawsuit says Karon Golightly would likely be alive today if he had been appropriately monitored and evaluated. In the two months leading up to his death, the lawsuit says Golightly displayed numerous behavioral “red flags” that should have landed him on a “special watch.” That would require jail staff to check on him four times an hour, instead of twice an hour as the state requires for all other inmates.

An inmate found Golightly in cardiac arrest in May 2021, after, the lawsuit says, he was believed to have ingested psychotropic medications from other inmates which reacted to his own.

The lawsuit says no one had checked on him for 86 minutes. Jail records indicate a detention officer walked by his cell during that time, but the lawsuit says Golightly was either in the bathroom or in someone else’s cell.

Wellpath and Reserve, the companies that delivered medical and mental health services to inmates, are also named as defendants. Wellpath notified the sheriff’s office earlier this year, that it planned to end its contract with the county.

Last month, the sheriff’s department settled a lawsuit regarding an inmate’s suicide a couple of weeks before Golightly’s death.

The sheriff’s office says it does not comment on pending litigation.


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Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.