On July 20, 2021, apartment managers entered 29-year-old Indiana resident Joshua McLemore’s home, found him confused, incoherent, and nude on the floor, and had McLemore transported to a Seymour, Indiana, hospital. McLemore’s mother had called her son’s living complex, worried he could have been having a psychotic episode. At the hospital, McLemore grabbed a nurse’s hair and the Seymour Police Department arrested him on battery charges.
At the Jackson County Jail, McLemore, who had schizophrenia, was stripped naked and thrown into solitary confinement in what was known as “Padded Cell 7,” a small room without toilet access.
Surveillance footage over 21 days shows him screaming; rocking back and forth; licking the walls; smearing his feces and urine all over the floor; violently shoving a plastic bottle into his rectum; throwing his food on the ground; and eating the styrofoam food trays that made their way through the thin slot at the cell door.
According to the lawsuit, he lost 45 pounds in less than a month. Jail staff rarely checked in on him. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) employees occasionally placed McLemore in restraints and wheeled him into a shower as JCSO forced other imprisoned people to clean the excrement in his cell. On August 8, a guard named Beverly texted her supervisor, “Just bathed him. And he can’t hold his hands, legs, anything. He’s dead weight.”
In the footage, McLemore’s body visibly shrinks over weeks until he doesn’t have the strength to hold his head up.
“Get up, buddy,” a corrections officer asks. But he can’t. In one portion of the footage, a female guard sprays him with liquid soap and hoses him down so that he does not smell before EMS comes.
On August 8, jail officials noticed that McLemore—visibly emaciated and unable to hold up his body—likely needed medical care. But medical officials were unable to save him. According to a suit, doctors listed McLemore’s cause of death as “multiple organ failure due to refusal to eat or drink with altered mental status due to untreated schizophrenia.”
McLemore’s family alleges that at least 20 people, including Sheriff Rick Meyer, had access to roughly 400 hours of footage of McLemore wasting away in his cell. Edwin Budge, the family’s attorney, said he could not understand why no one called 911 earlier.