Lawsuit: Family of Real Estate Executive David Richard Lewis Sues San Bernardino Jail for Failing to Prevent His Suicide
Lewis, originally from San Bernardino, was 36 and had been vice president of The Lewis Group of Companies, reportedly "one of the nation's largest privately held real estate development" groups, managing holdings worth more than $1.5 billion.
Though his family admits that Lewis was suicidal, they don't believe Lewis had to die. And in a recent lawsuit, Lewis' widow, Rachel, and their 2-year-old son, Ralph, blame the California Highway Patrol and the San Bernardino County jail staff for allowing Lewis to take his own life.
According to the lawsuit, Lewis had been suicidal for weeks.
During this time period, claims Lewis' widow, Lewis was being pressured by law enforcement "to cooperate in an investigation of his family, including by wearing a concealed electronic recording device and other actions, when [law enforcement] should have known that, due to his vulnerable mental condition, this coercion was reasonably likely to cause [Lewis] ... to take his own life."
On June 21, 2010, the day before Lewis killed himself, a California Highway Patrol officer pulled Lewis over on Interstate 15 and arrested him on charges of driving under the influence.
When the officer searched Lewis' car, according to the lawsuit, the officer "should have discovered evidence that [Lewis] was committing suicide, including books about committing suicide and use of firearm, as well as containers of prescription medication for the treatment of mental disability."
From there, Lewis' widow claims, Lewis was taken to the San Bernardino jail, where he was booked and released, allegedly without being examined or treated for his mental disorder or ongoing suicide.
Twelve hours later, Lewis pulled the trigger.
According to the lawsuit:
As a proximate result of [the highway patrol and county jail's] deliberate acts and omissions to act, deliberate indifference and negligence, including failure to adopt a reasonable policy and training with regard to the screening and treatment of mentally-disabled prisoners such as [Lewis], the defendants were unable to protect [Lewis] from harm, and were the actual cause in fact of his death.
It will be interesting to see whether the family of a man who successfully killed himself can turn around and successfully blame the cops for not preventing the death.