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Firm Files Suit to Redress Deliberate Indifference Towards Ryan Harmon’s Known Suicidality Which Ended with his Hanging Himself in the Larimer County Detention Center

On behalf of the firm, John Holland and Dan Weiss recently filed a federal lawsuit suit to redress the preventable jail suicide of Ryan Harmon on behalf of his Estate and his four loving children against Larimer County and CorrHealth, the private jail provider at the Larimer County Detention Center, as well as against two individuals. As his jailers and the jail medical staff knew from the outset of his detention, Mr. Harmon suffered from serious mental illness, including chronic anxiety and depression.

On May 21, 2023, Mr. Harmon was isolated in a quarantine cell supposedly because of suspected COVID in a cellmate. This caused his already significant mental illness to intensify into a mental health crisis. While in quarantine, Ryan repeatedly complained to deputies, CorrHealth medical staff, his family and loved ones that he just could not handle being isolated and fed through a door “like a dog”. He kept telling his jailers that he was going crazy in isolation and begging them to return him to the jail’s general population. His last “kite” asking to be returned was not read until 3 days after Ryan hung himself.

Ryan also repeatedly told Deputies and nursing staff that he could not live like this and that they had three days to get him out of quarantine, where he said he did not belong and was just being punished for no reason. He could not stand being isolated and threatened to kill himself.

Rather than protecting him and providing him with urgent mental health care or even contacting someone who could, deputies and nursing staff reacted to Ryan’s repeated threats of self-harm by telling him if he did not stop saying such things he would be punished by putting him someplace “he did not want to be.”

Instead of taking his threats to kill himself with the seriousness and urgency that the law demands, deputies and caregivers treated Ryan as faking and used the threat of putting him on suicide watch – with the protocols of clothing removals, use of a smock, and more rigorous isolation – to try to scare him into stopping his loud expressions of his suicidal intent to kill himself. He needed to be placed on suicide watch but that did not happen.

After additionally receiving some unexpected and distressing potential sentencing news, Ryan repeatedly called his family and loved ones, continued to make a ruckus at the jail, and loudly threatened to harm himself to jailers, caregivers, inmates, and family. These were recorded calls and Mr. Harmon’s suicidal words could also be heard reverberating throughout the quarantine area of the Jail which was small and quiet.

Even after his jailers and nurses were expressly told by a nearby inmate that Mr. Harmon had a specific suicide plan using rope like items he then had from a bag in his cell, they decided not to provide him with urgent protection, mental health evaluation, treatment or even to contact mental health providers who were licensed and trained to do so.

Mr. Harmon was thus left to his own devices in his non-suicide-proof cell, alone, in an acutely suicidal state of mind, while also known to possess the means he was stating he was planning on using to hang himself. Those means were not confiscated.

As set forth in the complaint, rather than urgently intervening, the involved defendants did not take him seriously and gambled with the meaning of Ryan’s state of mind until he hung himself. On May 25, 2023, he was found hanging by a cord taken from his laundry bag, having used the tools that deputies and nursing staff were explicitly warned about, that he said he was going to use, the night before.

The complaint alleges that the Defendants, with deliberate indifference and utter negligence, let a suicidal man who told them he was going to kill himself do so without making any effort to intervene and stop him.

The case was written up by Westword. Here is a link to that article which also has a copy of the filed complaint embedded.