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Wrongful death lawsuit filed over man who died from beating by Wake detention officer

Posted May 19, 2015

— The sister of a man who died after he was beaten by a Wake County detention officer while in jail filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the officer and the Wake County sheriff.

Marlene Gilbert wants a jury to determine damages in her lawsuit against former detention officer Markeith Council and Sheriff Donnie Harrison. She claims Harrison shares responsibility in the June 2013 death of her brother, Shon Demetrius McClain, because he ignored previous disciplinary problems of detention officers.

McClain died 13 days after suffering a brain injury while in the Wake County Detention Center, where he was being held on misdemeanor charges.

Security video taken from the jail showed Council slamming McClain twice into the concrete floor. Council was charged with involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years in prison, suspended to 90 days in jail, and three years of supervised probation.

During his trial, Council said the two had been arguing and it escalated when McClain struck him in the jaw. But other inmates testified that McClain, who was 5 feet 7 inches tall and 119 pounds, was helpless once he was pinned by Council, who weighed 290 pounds and played football in college.

In the lawsuit, Gilbert alleges that Council had previously used force against detainees, including physically moving a detainee in September 2012 and pulling another detainee by the hair.

“Detention officers employed by the Wake County Sheriff, including Markeith Council, have a history of disciplinary problems that have resulted in the serious injury of other pre-trial detainees. Despite his awareness that Mr. Council and other detention officers required additional training to competently perform their jobs, Sheriff Harrison ignored the clear warning signs that a detainee soon would be severely injured, or in the case of Mr. McClain, killed,” Gilbert alleges in the lawsuit.

A spokesman for the sheriff's office declined to comment on the lawsuit.


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  • Sean Coates May 20, 2015
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    The man was not an inmate he was a pretrial detainee. Inmates are people in prison, which that guard should be!

  • Kenneth Brewer May 20, 2015
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    sooo...you think it was OK for the d.o. to murder him, or did you just want to make a snarky comment about my comment?

  • Chris Holder May 20, 2015
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    And so, kill the inmate! Is that right?

  • Ray Rivera May 20, 2015
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  • Amy LaFluer May 19, 2015
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    Was that before or after the indecent liberties w/child and failing to register?

  • Kenneth Brewer May 19, 2015
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    I knew Shon. He was alright. The first person ever to show me video on a phone, back in the early 2000s. He had a good countenance and I believe the detention officer body-slammed him because the D.O. was an unsupervised bully and Shon was small. I hope his sister comes out to the good.

  • Lisa Menendez May 19, 2015
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    He should have thought about how big the guard was before he punched in his jaw... Inmates need to learn they are detained and no longer have their freedom and should respect the authority and rules.

  • William Patterson May 19, 2015
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    i hope she is successful ...that guard was almost three times his size ...he did not have to treat that fellow like that ....he is lucky to have gotten off as lightly as he did ...