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Mother sues son for suicide in McLennan County jail

A lawsuit brought by the relatives of a man who committed suicide in McLennan County Jail two years ago has been stayed after the man’s mother filed a separate lawsuit this week.

Jesse James Evans, 25, died on June 3, 2022, at a local hospital after attempting to harm himself while in custody at the jail. He was admitted there after being arrested on domestic violence charges in West Waco a few hours earlier.

Jail staff checked on Evans six times that day between 7:05 p.m. and 7:32 p.m. Doctors and paramedics were called at 7:45 p.m. when Evans was found unconscious, according to jail records. According to his autopsy by the Dallas County coroner, he died by hanging and the cause of death was suicide, the Tribune-Herald previously reported.

An investigation into the incident by the Texas Rangers did not result in any charges, said McLennan County District Attorney Josh Tetens.

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In August, Evans’ father, Stephen Young, and an aunt, Yvette Giraud, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Waco on behalf of themselves and Evans’ heirs and other beneficiaries.

Young and Giraud’s lawsuit had now progressed to the point where Judge Jeffrey Manske set a trial date in May 2025 and gave the plaintiffs a deadline to file a settlement demand with the defendant in McLennan County.

At the request of attorneys for Young and Giraud, Manske signed an order Tuesday lifting the deadline for demanding a settlement and putting the case on hold because Evans’ mother, Rose Lyons, had filed a similar lawsuit in the same federal court over Evans’ death.

“Ms. Lyons filed her original lawsuit without the knowledge of any of the plaintiffs,” the motion to stay Young and Giraud’s lawsuit states. “Yvette Giraud, as executor of the estate of Jesse James Evans, represents the interests of all beneficiaries and all heirs who benefited from the decedent’s death. Therefore, Ms. Giraud, as executor, was already asserting Ms. Lyons’ claims in this matter when Ms. Lyons filed her lawsuit.”

Now that Lyons has retained her own attorneys to represent her interests, Young and Giraud are no longer able to “provide a global settlement demand for the plaintiffs, which would necessarily include all beneficiaries of the death and all heirs.”

In her lawsuit, Lyons asserts claims not only against the county, as Young and Giraud do, but also against the prison nurse who took Evans to jail and the two Waco City Police officers who arrested Evans and took him to jail for registration. Lyons sues based on the 14th Amendment and case law requiring a jail to be “built to protect pretrial detainees from a known risk of suicide.”

None of the attorneys in the two cases – neither for the individual plaintiffs nor for the defense – immediately responded to the Tribune-Herald’s questions Wednesday about whether the two lawsuits would be consolidated.

Lyons’ lawsuit alleges that the police officers who arrested Evans failed to report to the prison that Evans had expressed suicidal thoughts to them during his arrest and transport to the prison.

It says the nurse who brought Evans to prison allowed him to be placed in a cell with a tearable blanket and tie points.

“Every competent prison guard, prison administrator, and policymaker regarding prisons in the United States knows that precautions against suicide include adequate supervision, removing shackles from a cell, and not confining a person in a cell with attachment points for possible shackles,” Lyons’ lawsuit states. “Precautions against suicide also include the use of a suicide gown, a jacket that does not tear easily and therefore cannot easily be used as a shackle, and tear-resistant bedding.”

Lyons further alleges that Evans’ previous incarceration records at the McLennan County Jail were not properly reviewed, that jail staff did not properly inform those supervising Evans while on suicide watch at shift change of the risk he posed, and that his mental health status was not determined by a qualified psychiatrist/psychotherapist.

Although McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara is not named as a defendant in the opening pages of the complaint, he is named as a policymaker in all matters concerning the management of the jail and the training of jail personnel to run the jail.

Lyons is seeking damages for property damage, loss of affection, emotional anguish and other harm, but does not specify a specific amount.

This latest lawsuit is still in the earliest preliminary stages. So far, only the county and the nurse have been notified and have reported to the court with their attorneys. The two Waco police officers have not yet reported to the court or reported to the court with their attorneys.

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