Lawsuit Filed Against St. Francois County and Sheriff’s Department over 2019 Inmate Suicide

(Farmington, Mo.) A civil lawsuit was filed Tuesday against St. Francois County and the sheriff’s department alleging the jail staff failed to properly detain Michael Bennett, a Park Hills man who committed suicide while in custody, after the staff was made aware of Bennett’s suicidal inclination.

In addition to the county, the suit also lists Sheriff Dan Bullock, Deputy Remington Appel, Deputy Dillon Sansoucie and retired Jail Administrator Dennis Smith as defendants.

Bennett was taken into custody in early 2019 after being involved in a physical altercation with two other men.

The lawsuit alleges that once Bennett was in custody, he repeatedly told the arresting officers he was suicidal.

The officers on the scene were apparently made aware of the suicidal threats as were Appel, Sansoucie and Smith, who were on duty when Bennett arrived at the jail.

The lawsuit alleges the named defendants did not take proper precautionary measures to prevent Bennett from harming himself.

He was given a standard-issued orange jail suit and pants, instead of a paper gown, and was placed in a cell by himself with an interior door handle.

The lawsuit also alleges that in the 15 minutes Bennett was in the cell before he took his own life by self-strangulation, the jail staff failed to check on the man.