Family of man who died while in custody at York County Prison starts legal action

Dylan Segelbaum - York Daily Record

The mother of a man who died while in custody at York County Prison has commenced legal action against the county, prison board of inspectors and 10 people referred to only as John Doe.

Rose Palmer, who’s the administrator of the Estate of Everett Palmer Jr., started the case on Tuesday in the York County Court of Common Pleas, on what would’ve been her son’s 43rd birthday. The court documents do not outline any allegations. But the process allows her attorneys to obtain information prior to filing a lawsuit.

Palmer, 41, of Seaford, Delaware, died on April 9, 2018, two days after relatives said he turned himself in on a DUI charge from 2016. He had been in a single-person cell on suicide watch, according to an autopsy report.

At about 4 a.m., Palmer started to bang his head on the cell door, the report states, and corrections officers twice used a stun gun on him after he refused to obey a command.

Corrections officers then entered the cell, eventually placing him into a restraint chair. They had also put a hood over his head to prevent him from spitting. When Palmer was taken to the medical unit, “his eyes appeared still head leaned to the side,” according to the report.

The York County Coroner’s Office reported that the cause of death was “complications following an excited state, associated with methamphetamine toxicity, during physical restraint.” Probable sickle red cell disorder was cited as a contributory factor. The manner of death was undetermined.

“We believe what happened to Mr. Palmer was criminal,” said Lee Merritt, the Palmer family’s attorney, who added that he hopes that evidence uncovered during the litigation will lead to criminal charges.

Merritt said he’s looking for an incident report about what happened inside the cell, various witness statements and security video that he believes exists.

The Palmer family, he said, still doesn’t have answers about what happened more than 1 1/2 years later.

“It remains an active investigation,” said Kyle King, a spokesman for the York County District Attorney’s Office.

Mark Walters, a spokesman for York County, said it does not comment on pending litigation. 

Palmer was a personal trainer and father of two whom loved ones described as a kind and gentle person. He grew up in Queens, New York, and served as a U.S. Army paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.

Contact Dylan Segelbaum at 717-771-2102.

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