Lawsuit filed in death of inmate

DECATUR, Ind. (WANE) The family of a man who died after being found unconscious in an Adams County Jail cell in September has filed a wrongful death suit against the Adams County sheriff and his department, along with 10 jailers who they say tortured the man and left him naked in a “cold, dark cell” until he died.

Jeremy H. Oswalt was found just after 4 a.m. Sept. 28, unconscious in his cell at the Adams County Jail. Officers rushed in and found that Oswalt exhibited shallow breathing and was unresponsive.

He was taken to Adams County Memorial Hospital where he later died. The Adams County Coroner said the 38-year-old Oswalt died of natural causes.

Jeremy Oswalt
Jeremy Oswalt (Adam’s County Sherrif’s Office)

The Indiana State Police was called in at the request of Adams County Sheriff Shane Rekeweg to conduct an investigation. Details of that were not released.

According to a wrongful death suit filed in federal court Thursday, Oswalt’s stay in the Adams County Jail was heinous.

Oswalt, who suffers from Bipolar disorder with psychosis, was placed on suicide watch on August 3 and was housed in a “dark, cool padded segregation cell,” the family wrote in a statement associated with the lawsuit. The conditions deteriorated Oswalt’s mental and physical to the point he was “naked in his cell, uncommunicative, and refusing to eat, drink or take his medications.”

The family claimed a nurse contractor who examined Oswalt wrote, “I feel that (Oswalt’s) mental capacity has deteriorated to the point that he is a grave danger to himself or others.”

The suit claims Oswalt was housed in a cell “littered with trash, feces and urine.”

READ | Oswalt wrongful death complaint

On Sept. 16, the suit claimed Oswalt was removed from his cell and taken to a service garage, where he was strapped to a chair with a hood placed over his head and buckets of water were dumped atop him.

According to the suit, jail video shows Oswalt in his cell trembling and shivering on the floor. From early Sept. 27 until early Sept. 28, the suit claims no jailer checked on Oswalt “as he lapsed into a coma.”

The suit claimed hypothermia, dehydration and malnutrition contributed to Oswalt’s death.

Rekeweg told NewsChannel 15 in an email Thursday that he was unable to comment on current lawsuits filed against the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

Oswalt was arrested in early August for attacking three employees at Crossroads Pantry in Geneva after they refused to give him money.