Lawsuit filed over Washington County, Tenn. inmate death

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GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — A lawsuit has been filed over the death of an inmate who was housed at the Washington County Detention Center.

The lawsuit was filed by a family member of Joseph Lockner, who died in December 2018 following an altercation at the jail, against Washington County, Sheriff Ed Graybeal, certain jail staff, and six defendants charged in connection with his death.

The complaint claims that Lockner, a non-violent offender, was housed with inmates who were known for being violent and extorting non-violent offenders. It also blames jail overcrowding, understaffing, and a delay in providing medical care as factors in Lockner’s death.

The lawsuit claims Lockner reported to jail administrators that he feared for his safety due to the threat of being harmed, but jail staff failed to move him to a different housing assignment.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, correction officers were alerted to an altercation in one of the jail cells and found Lockner unresponsive on the bathroom floor on December 17, 2018. Officers said they performed CPR until paramedics arrived. He died just a few days later.

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