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Stun gun involved in Gregg County Jail inmate death

By Sarah Thomas sthomas@news-journal.com
March 21, 2013 at 11 p.m.


A Gregg County Jail inmate died early Thursday after being subdued with a stun gun.

Bobby Madewell, 51, of Longview was pronounced dead about 2 a.m. at Good Shepherd Medical Center, where he was taken by ambulance.

Madewell had been jailed since March 12 on a bond forfeiture for charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

He had been held in a separation cell, Sheriff Maxey Cerliano said in a statement, "and exhibited erratic behavior about 12:40 a.m. Officers interacted with the inmate and he began to resist and became extremely violent."

Madewell was stunned with a Taser so he could be subdued and put in restraints, Cerliano said.

"The inmate became unconscious and was immediately assisted by staff as well as medical staff on duty," he said in the statement. "Longview Fire EMS responded and the inmate was transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center."

Madewell was declared dead at 2:09 a.m. by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace B.H. Jameson.

Betty Madewell said jail staff told her Tuesday that her son was in a separation cell because he refused to eat.

"I visited with him on Saturday," she said. "That was the last time I saw him. He didn't seem like anything was wrong. When I went to see him Tuesday, I couldn't see him. They told me I couldn't because he was in a separation cell."

Madewell said her son being denied his prescription medicine may have played a role in his death.

"I told them he needed his medication," she said. "His doctor had prescribed him Xanax, and I told them he needed his Xanax or he would start having seizures."

Madewell said jail staff said her son could not receive the anti-anxiety drug while in jail but would be provided with a substitute.

She said fighting with officers was not in her son's character.

Gregg County Jail records show Bobby Madewell had been booked into the jail 16 times since 1986, when he was charged with assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest, assault, and possession of a controlled substance.

His mother said Thursday she had not been given details about the circumstances surrounding her son's death.

"They just came here at 4 o'clock this morning and said he was dead," she said.

The last Gregg County Jail death occurred June 6, 2011. Micah Aaron Garner, 30, was pronounced dead after being found unresponsive in a medical holding cell at the jail. An autopsy report showed he had low levels of methamphetamine in his blood, but did not link his death to the drug.

Amy Lynn Cowling died in the jail Dec. 29, 2010, after suffering seizures while in a separation cell. In a wrongful death lawsuit closed this past month with a $1.9 million settlement with the county, Cowling's mother and three children claimed the 33-year-old died because of a jail policy that prevented her from receiving prescriptions doctors ordered for her bipolar disorder and recovery from opiate addiction.

Xanax was one of the drugs withheld because it was not on the list of medications approved to be received by inmates.

Such policies - that county jail inmates have no guarantee they will receive medications prescribed by their own doctors - are not unusual, according to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. Inmates often receive medications chosen by the government's physician. Among the reasons is difficulty verifying inmate prescriptions.

Cerliano declined to comment on the status of jail staff involved in the incident or other details.

"We have released all the information we are going to release for now," he said Thursday afternoon. "We tried to get out as much (information) as we could."

Texas Rangers and the Gregg County Sheriff's Department are investigating Madewell's death. Jameson ordered an autopsy to be conducted by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office.

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