Here are the reasons the New Hanover County Sheriff's Dept. may be sued over Hewett's death in custody:
(1) Gross Negligence in failing to treat Hewett for severe mental illness during the first 24 hours after he refused food and acted erratically -- an argument can be made that Hewitt should have been involuntary comitted to a mental health instition rather than jail.
(2) Gross Negligence during the altercation, in particular the second tazer struck near Hewett's heart -- a violation of the tazer's deployment instructions / jail protocol that did in this cause heart damage leading to death -- hence the "homicide" finding in the coroner's report. Furthermore, it may be argued that pepper spray would have been a better choice than a tazer -- imagine an expert witness physician (for example) ridiculing the choice of the second tazer and describing the effects of the current through the heart muscle -- it will move a jury to tears along with Hewlitt's orphaned children sitting in plain sight.
(3) Willful misconduct by deputies holding Hewett in a face-down position for several minutes in which his air passage was constricted. Further, whereas it may appear than Hewitt can't stand up since he is "uncooperative," a clever atty will spin this part of the video as evidence that Hewitt was already severely medically incapacitated after the second taze.
(4) Gross Negligence by failing to provide prompt medical attention after it became clear he was severely injured; no vital signs were checked until he became "blue," and paramedics took too long to arrive when there was likely to be other first-aid trained personnel in the premises that did not provide help.
I expect Hewitt's family will be a multi-million settlement -- and they deserve it.
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