The family of an inmate who committed suicide at the Sedgwick County jail is preparing to sue Sheriff Bob Hinshaw.

Attorney Mark Schoenhofer is representing the Haehn family and is preparing litigation.  The family claims, according to the document, Sheriff Hinshaw was negligent for failing to properly train, educate and supervise his detention deputies.  The family wants to know why he wasn’t placed on suicide watch.

According to a “notice of claim” filed in court Jonathan Haehn suffered from hallucinations and a belief people were trying to kill him.  He presented “bizarre behavior and warning signs of suicide risk” according to the document. 

Documents say Haehn‘s sister and girlfriend called the jail warning them of Haehn‘s possible suicidal behavior.  In the late morning or early afternoon of May 24, Haehn hanged himself by a bed sheet around his neck.  The sheet was attached to the ceiling light fixture. 

“The Sedgwick County Jail is virtually a small city,” says Sedgwick County Sheriff Bob Hinshaw.

About 30,000 inmates stay in the Sedgwick County Jail each year.

“Since 2009 there have been 3 successful suicides in the Sedgwick County Jail, 2 of which were this year in 2012,” said Hinshaw.      

However Hinshaw says both an internal investigation and one by Kansas Bureau of Investigation contradicts the family’s claim.

“The notice of claim was filed, it was denied fairly quickly based on some alleged factual statements that were not clearly supported by internal documentation,” said Hinshaw.         

He says deputies receive basic training in academy and inmates receive a mental health assessment. Those considered at risk for suicide are placed in 1 of 14 or 15 cells with cameras monitoring them. Still Hinshaw admits there are limitations to taking care of the mentally ill.

“We know a lot of the jails, and not just here in Kansas but across the nation, are becoming another level of mental health providers which is not what is supposed to be done,” said Hinshaw.

Wrongful death lawsuit planned against Sedgwick County Sheriff