A Pulaski County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of county jailers Tuesday, saying they did not use excessive force when restraining a Little Rock man.
Dean A. Garrett Jr. of Little Rock died two years after being pepper sprayed and restrained in the Pulaski County jail. The incident led to him attempting suicide a day later, while still in custody, and his death in 2017, according to a lawsuit filed by his estate.
On April 1, 2015, Garrett was arrested for failure to pay a fine and failure to appear. Pulaski County deputies at the jail pepper sprayed and restrained Garrett. The lawsuit alleged the physical and mental injuries Garrett received from being restrained led to him attempting suicide the following day and his death two years later.
But on Tuesday, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Patricia James dismissed the lawsuit saying "the force used in this case was appropriate and necessary."
In her ruling, James said Garrett received medical treatment inside the Pulaski County jail and deputies showed no signs of disregard for Garrett's medical needs. James also wrote deputies used a "necessary" amount of pepper spray "to control a recalcitrant inmate."
"This Court finds that defendants' actions in this matter did not constitute deliberate indifference to Garrett's medical needs," James wrote. "The facts are clear that Garrett received medical treatment twice during his less than 24 hour stay at the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility."
In 2018, Garrett's estate filed a lawsuit against the county jail alleging excessive use of force by deputies leading Garrett to suffer from years of depression, post traumatic stress disorder and other ailments that led to his death in 2017. Former Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay along with five deputies and former jail administrator Randy Morgan were named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Garrett, 46, was born in Newport and had lived in Fort Smith, Eureka Springs and Little Rock according to his obituary. Garrett had a degree in psychology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and worked in stone masonry and had a successful eBay business.