Indiana gay inmate ‘mocked for his sexuality’ before suicide
A gay inmate was subject to weeks of harassment and mockery because of his sexuality, alleges a lawsuit filed in Indiana by his partner against Noble County’s sheriff, jail commander and jail staff.
Markus Middleton was 23 when he died by suicide on October 4, 2017, at the Noble County jail, 23 days after being arrested along with his partner Jerry, Indiana local media reported at the time.
Jerry was jailed for nine days for driving without a license, while Markus was awaiting trial on misdemeanour false informing and resisting law enforcement charges. His bond was set at $7,500.
The couple had been married since June 2015. Jerry remembered Markus as a fun and loving person. “He was always the life of the party,” he told local news channel Wane 15.
Jerry had asked the jail staff to look after Markus, who was bipolar. “My exact words were don’t put him on g-block and keep an eye on him,” he said.
While Markus was in jail, Jerry regularly visited him. He knew that he had been to see the jail’s doctor. “They were well aware of what was going on,” he said, referring to Markus’ mental health condition.
“I guess I’m just hoping for more answers, and justice.”
— Jerry Middleton
Jerry described his reaction to news of his partner’s death: “I was in complete shock when they told me but I mean I know—when I warned them I know of his past, so that’s why I told them what I knew but I didn’t really think it would be that serious…”
Lawsuit claims Indiana gay inmate was ‘continuously mocked, harassed, threatened’
Jerry filed a lawsuit claiming his partner was “continuously mocked, harassed, threatened, and denied mental health treatment for bipolar disorder and depression,” reports The Kendallville News-Sun.
According to the lawsuit, during the 23 days in which Markus was in custody, he was also denied protective custody and “repeatedly threatened with harm by fellow inmates and discriminatorily mocked and taunted by jail guards because of his sexuality.”
Jerry told Wane that the taunts came more from jail staff than other prisoners: “There was one individual staff who was ruthless, more so the staff than the inmates.”
In filing the lawsuit, Jerry seeks damages from the county for wrongful death and negligence including compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal costs.
He is also looking to find closure, he told the channel Wane 15: “I guess I’m just hoping for more answers, and justice, cause I have to live the rest of my life, I mean I don’t really understand it I guess.”
If you are in the US and are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression, or just want to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255. If you are in the UK, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.