Judge dismisses lawsuit in wrongful death case

GREENVILLE, Miss. – A federal court judge has dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estate of a woman who died while in police custody three years ago.

The $10 million lawsuit was filed in 2006 by Alice Hill, mother of Debbie Denise Loggins, after Loggins was found unconscious in the backseat of a patrol car on Sep. 17, 2005 in Carrollton, Miss.

Carroll County deputies admitted that Loggins, the mother of six, had been “hogtied” after resisting arrest for allegedly fighting with another woman earlier that morning. However, Sharion Aycock, District Court Judge for the Northern District, ruled last week that Loggins’ death did not result from force used by the deputies involved.

An initial autopsy and toxicology report indicated that “physical or blunt force trauma” was not a factor in Loggins’ death, neither were drugs and/or alcohol. A state pathologist later determined that Loggins, 33, died of hyperthermia – a condition commonly known as heatstroke, and her death was ruled an “accident.”

“She died, and it was unfortunate, absolutely tragic, that one would pass away. But it had little to do with the actions of the officers,” said attorney Michael Wolf in a statement. Wolf represented Carroll County and the deputies in the case.

A $15 million lawsuit against the deputies – Michael Spellman, Charles Jones and David Mims -was dismissed in December 2006.

The altercation with Loggins began after deputies responded to a “fight” call around 5:45 a.m., that Saturday morning. According to Don Gray, who was the sheriff of Carroll County at the time, Loggins allegedly had another woman in a “headlock position” and she became “verbally and physically combative” when deputies tried to intervene. She was initially placed in handcuffs and leg shackles.

“It still was not enough,” Gray said at the time. “They were trying to reduce the amount of her kicking. They had difficulty getting her into the car because she was putting her legs up and blocking them. That’s when they put on the third device.”

Gray said other suspects have been secured in this manner to keep them from damaging the squad car.

“We’ve done this before,” Gray said. “…[and] with that kind of restraint, there was very little she could do as far as hurting anybody, the car or herself.”

A third deputy said Loggins was “still fighting her restraints and verbally abusive” during her transport to the Grenada County jail. But minutes before they arrived she “began to quiet down.” When they arrived at the facility. Loggins was unresponsive. She was taken to Grenada Lake Medical Center where she was pronounced dead just before 7 a.m.

Loggins’ family plans to appeal the ruling.

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