- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union says it is investigating after the lead plaintiff in a civil rights lawsuit against the Canyon County Jail died while in the jail’s custody.

The family of Jeri-Alfred Cook has also filed a tort claim of their intention to sue the county for $250,000.

“We are taking this very seriously,” ACLU attorney Stephan Pevar told the Idaho Press-Tribune in a story Tuesday (https://bit.ly/1EoSu7q ). “Here you have the lead plaintiff in a civil rights lawsuit who goes back to the jail and dies.”

The claim filed by the family said Cook died last year after officials ignored Cook’s pleas to see a medical provider for a “serious respiratory infection.”

The claim said Cook was taken to a medical facility April 4 after becoming comatose with “no hope of recovery.” His sister, Tasha Woodberry, said Cook was removed from life support two days later.

Woodberry and Cook’s domestic partner, Anthony Cook, filed the tort claim.

“A physician at the medical center informed a family member and friend that had Mr. Cook been taken to the hospital earlier, he could have survived,” according to the claim.

Cook was at the jail after being charged with driving under the influence following termination from drug court, the claim said.

Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker declined to comment.

In 2011, Cook, then known as Alfred Young, successfully sued the county in federal court after receiving punishment for grievances filed over jail conditions.

The lawsuit resulted in a federal judge in 2012 placing the county under a consent decree, resulting in increased scrutiny and procedures at the jail for such things as transfers and denials of privileges.

Pevar said the ACLU hasn’t come to any conclusions about Cook’s death.

“It may turn out that he was not given proper medical care, but it was not retaliatory,” Pevar said. “In that case, we would not pursue it. The family would have to pursue it on their own.”

He also said the ACLU made a request in August for documents related to Cook’s medical care and any grievances filed by Cook in the weeks leading up to his death, but Pevar said the documents haven’t been received.

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Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune, https://www.idahopress.com


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