Attorney: York jail followed all policies

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comNovember 12, 2013 

  • Timeline leading up to Joshua Grose’s death

    Joshua Grose was arrested on Friday, Oct. 18, and charged with murder in the death of Sandra Thomas, 53. He was taken to the York County Detention Center, where he refused to be processed, but was compliant and seemed reasonable, said staff attorney, Kris Jordan. The next night, still refusing to be processed, he was charged with the murder of his stepmother, Sandra Grose, the attempted murder of his uncle, Carlton Sisk and taking Thomas’ car.

    Shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, Grose’s behavior changed. In the security footage, witnessed by media members Tuesday, events unfolded over the next hour-and-a-half that left Grose unresponsive, on his way to Piedmont Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead just after 3 a.m.

    •  12:46 a.m.: Grose, in a holding cell, removed all his clothes. Officers put up a screen for privacy. Earlier in the day, Grose had slipped in his cell and hit his head, but showed no sign of injury.

    •  1:06 a.m.: The lieutenant on duty said she heard a sound like a baseball hitting a bat and flushing sounds. When she looked in Grose’s cell, she saw him with his head in the toilet. Officers entered his cell where he was lying face down on the floor. When officers tried to restrain him, he became very “combative,” refusing to be handcuffed and kicking his legs.

    •  1:08 a.m.: A restraint chair is brought by an officer. Five officers drag Grose out of his cell, while he actively fights them, screaming phrases like “Kill me” and “I want to die by police,” according to Sgt. John Hicks. On the floor, they manage to get leg shackles on Grose’s ankles and use two pairs of handcuffs to restrain his arms, before attempting to lift him into the restraint chair. Grose “planks” his body the entire time, making it difficult to get him in the chair.

    • 1:14 a.m.: An officer uses several “forearm and open hand strikes” to get Grose to release an officer, whom he had grabbed with his legs. Grose also was struck in the abdomen so he could be properly restrained in the chair.

    During the struggle, a Taser was used on Grose to get his legs and body properly restrained in the chair. He repeatedly spits on officers and is made to wear a face shield. Officers covered Grose with a towel because he was naked and put up privacy screens to conceal him from the other inmates.

    EMS was called because officers saw a large “goose egg” and a cut on Grose’s head, which appeared to be different from the earlier head injury and during the struggle, had gotten an abrasion on his elbow. On the video, blood could be seen on the wall from Grose’s elbow.

    “The conclusion that we have drawn is that he hit his head on (the wall the toilet faces) and was then dunking his head in the toilet,” Jordan said.

    • 1:33 a.m.: EMS arrived. Grose was still being combative, and began hitting his head on the back of the restraint chair. As it appeared in the video, EMS personnel weren’t able to get a close look at Grose’s head injury because of his behavior. Officers soon put a football helmet on him to protect him from hurting himself. EMS left, after determining treatment wasn’t needed for his head or elbow.

    • 1:45 a.m.: In the restraint chair, Grose was placed in a cell. To keep the chair in one place, the end of one of the restraints was pinched in the door. A pink sheet was attached to Grose’s door, indicating he was in the chair and on suicide watch. Still wearing the football helmet, Grose stretched his body out so his head was above the headrest of the restraint chair and hit his head repeatedly against the glass window of the cell door.

    After 15 minutes of hitting his head, Grose is able to shake the helmet off.

    • 2:03 a.m.: Officers use flexible handcuffs, which are like large zip ties, to secure one side of the helmet to a strap of the restraint chair so Grose can’t shake it off. His restraints are also tightened. Continuing to fight against officers in his cell, he gets the strap of the restraint chair lodged into the lock mechanism and for a few minutes, officers are unable to open the door.

    • 2:10 a.m.: Officers get the door open, use a flexible cuff to secure the other side of the helmet to a strap and move Grose to another cell. They also wedge a blanket or towel behind Grose’s neck to try to stop him from hitting his head against the door. In the new cell, Grose continues to throw his head back and may have hit his head several more times.

    Then, he stopped moving.

    • 2:20 a.m.: Two officers checking on Grose become concerned about his lack of movement and open the door. They discover he isn’t breathing. Officers start CPR and get an AED, an automated external defibrillator. EMS is called again.

    • 2:30 a.m.: EMS arrives. They instruct the officers to continue CPR and officers take turns giving Grose chest compressions. In the video it appears Grose is given an IV. Jordan said a tube was placed down his throat to try to get him to breathe.

    • 2:48 a.m.: Grose is taken in a stretcher to Piedmont Medical Center. Jordan said from 2:20 onward, Grose did not breathe on his own or have a heartbeat that officers could detect.

— Officers at the York County Detention Center followed all policies and procedures on the morning a man suspected of running over and killing his stepmother and a neighbor killed himself, Sheriff Bruce Bryant said Tuesday.

At a news conference, Bryant said the Sheriff’s Office has concluded its internal investigation into the death of Joshua Grose, 34, a Rock Hill man who was arrested and charged in the deaths of the two women and nearly killing a man in October. Grose died in custody at the York County Detention Center less than 36 hours after the attacks.

Staff attorney Kris Jordan, Bryant and other officers presented their findings in a three-hour news conference, concluding that all policies and procedures were followed the morning of Oct. 20, when Grose hit his head on a wall, then attempted to drown himself in his cell toilet before repeatedly slamming his head against whatever he could.

York County Coroner Sabrina Gast ruled the initial cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head. The full results of the autopsy won’t be available for several weeks, Jordan said.

“We have determined that actions taken by detention officers with regard to Mr. Grose were not only within our policy guidelines regarding the use of force and use of restraints, but the actions by our detention officers exemplified the behavior the sheriff expects with regard to the treatment of detainees in our facility,” Jordan said.

The Sheriff’s Office is, however, looking into several procedures to see how an incident like this might be avoided in the future, Jordan said, such as the way restraint chairs are kept in place when combative inmates are placed in them.

Grose was forced into a chair after the toilet incident. His chair was placed in a cell, where it was held in place by closing one of the straps in the cell door. The position of the chair allowed Grose, who was wearing a football helmet placed on him by officers, to slam his head into door’s window.

Jordan also said the Sheriff’s Office was having preliminary meetings with Piedmont Medical Center to explore the use of tranquilizers at the detention center to stop combative detainees from posing a danger to themselves and others.

Over the course of about 90 minutes on Oct. 20, Grose was extremely combative with officers, kicking and spitting at them and at one point, grabbing the open end of a handcuff like he wanted to use it as a weapon, said Sgt. John Hicks.

“There’s certain things we have to do sometimes when things are not going normal,” Bryant said. “We do what we have to do to make sure our inmates are kept safe and that our officers are kept safe.”

The media was shown security footage from the night of Grose’s death, although the video was not being released to the public.

“Because of the nature of this incident, people, I’m sure, want to ask questions,” Jordan said. “They want to question what law enforcement does and that’s their right to do that.”

But the video would not be released to the public because the Sheriff’s Office believes showing the video would pose a security risk to the facility.

Bryant and Jordan said the reason for showing the video to the media was to address allegations of misconduct by officers dealing with Grose.

“You will see, by this video, just how compassionate some of these officers are,” Bryant said.

He also challenged the media to find a place where the officers at the detention center did anything to cause Grose’s death.

“We can’t control conduct,” he said. “We deal with it on a daily basis.”

Jordan also addressed the case of Jeffrey Waddell, a York County inmate who died in custody in 2006 while strapped to a restraint chair. Waddell suffered from a severe seizure condition and mental illness, Jordan said.

Immediately after Waddell’s death, the detention center made changes to its procedures for victims of seizures while in custody, she said.

Jordan stated several times throughout the news conference that the detention center is not a mental facility and is not equipped to function as such.

“We did the best we could,” she said of that 2006 incident.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

The Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service