BJ, Skip point fingers over inmate death suit

Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes and former Commission Chairman Skip Alston point fingers over the Christopher Armstrong $500k wrongful death suit:

“It was total neglect on the county’s part that killed this young man,” Alston said. “It was our negligence, the negligence of the jail and the sheriff’s office.”

But Barnes called Alston’s comments “ignorance” and said his jail guards did everything they could to keep an unstable inmate from harming himself or others. They in no way contributed to his death, Barnes said.

Barnes said it was ultimately the commissioners’ decision to settle with the man’s family. He said he disagreed with the decision but wasn’t given a vote.

Commissioner Bruce Davis weighed in, too, saying he “was very disappointed that the sheriff did not want to take responsibility and did not want to discipline the guards who, in my opinion, were instrumental in causing the death of this inmate.”

The bigger question is why we’re just now hearing about this when the settlement was reached late last year, if indeed we can be as relieved as the sheriff that it’s been made public in order to shine light on the problem of dealing with mentally ill inmates.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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