Davis County has retained three expert witnesses to defend claims that its jail personnel were “deliberately indifferent” to a man who died of a drug overdose while in their custody.
Death of Gregory Leigh Hayes in Davis County Jail
On December 13, 2017, Gregory Leigh Hayes, 33, was brought to Davis County Jail because a police officer had determined that he was intoxicated. Because of his condition, jail personnel placed him in a holding cell rather than completing the booking process and assigning him to his own cell.
On December 14, 2017, Hayes died, while still awaiting booking. Hayes had a history of drug addiction.
Hayes’ mother, Susan Johnson, filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City against the county and the Sheriff at the time, alleging that the jail failed to adequately monitor her son’s medical condition.
Davis County Experts
Davis County attorneys have filed documents putting Johnson on notice that they have retained three expert witnesses to testify on the county’s behalf. The experts that have been retained include: Dr. Kennon Tubbs, Glen R. Hanson, Ph.D., and C. Donald Leach II.
Dr. Kennon Tubbs provides medical care in 10 Utah and Wyoming county jails. Tubbs will testify about the standard of care for people who are suspected to be under the influence of drugs or medicine in a jail setting. He is also expected to testify about the specific monitoring and treatment of Hayes.
Glen R. Hanson, Ph.D. is a toxicology expert who earned his doctorate in pharmacology from the University of Utah. Defense attorneys indicated that Hanson will testify about the substances that Hayes consumed and the effects that they had on him.
C. Donald Leach II is a consultant in jails’ handling of people under the influence of drugs. According to court documents, Leach is expected to address the jail’s policies and procedures regarding the handling of incoming inmates who are under the influence of drugs or medication. Leach will also testify about Hayes’ admission to jail that night.
Johnson retained two expert witnesses to testify in support of her case. She retained Dr. Ken Starr and Tom Green.
Dr. Ken Starr is a California authority on emergency rooms, drug abuse recovery, and jail medical services. Dr. Starr is expected to testify about Hayes’ “survivability had appropriate precautions been taken.”
Tom Green is the former chief deputy in the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada. Green is slated to testify about the standard practices for safely admitting and monitoring incoming inmates who are suspected to be under the influence of illegal drugs or medication.
Heather Miller Civil Suit
Dr. Starr and Dr. Tubbs were both expert witnesses in the recent civil suit over the death of Heather Miller, who fell off a Davis County Jail bunk and died on December 21, 2016. In September 2019, a federal judge ruled that a jail nurse was deliberately indifferent to Miller’s care. Davis County is currently appealing that decision to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.