Family to file wrongful death lawsuit

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) – A Petersburg man is arrested and dies within hours of being in custody. Tuesday, family members of Darryl Beasley say they plan on filing a wrongful death lawsuit against several sheriff's deputies.

Beasley passed away last year while being processed at the Petersburg City Jail.  It was during a strip search when something went wrong. NBC 12 obtained video leading up to his death.

June 19, 2010, 26-year-old Darryl Beasley is seen in the receiving area at the Petersburg City Jail. The video shows him emptying his pockets and taking off his shoes.

Moments later, Beasley walks to the strip search area with deputies. Two minutes later a naked Beasley is seen running out of the strip search room and down the hall. Deputies bring him to the ground.  This is where Beasley died.

"I asked the Sheriff.  I said, 'What happened to my brother,' and her reply, 'He swallowed something,'" said Larita Beasley, Darryl Beasley's sister.

More than a year later, Beasley's family is still looking for answers.

"Not once has anyone come to apologize or say sorry for your loss," said Larita.

The medical examiner's report lists the death as an "accident," the cause as "aspiration of a foreign object."

The report states, "EMS reported finding a plastic bag with a white substance covering the vocal cords."

Loved ones say Beasley wouldn't swallow a plastic bag filled with drugs.

"My brother loved life too much to do anything like that," said Larita Beasley.

The sheriff says the video shows her deputies doing their job.

"Deputies followed proper policies and procedures we have. It was not a wrongful death. It was unfortunate, but they did what they were supposed to do," said Sheriff Vanessa Crawford.

During a phone conversation, the Beasley family attorney says, "I don't buy the baggy shoved down the throat story. Deputies laid on him and killed him."

Despite the medical examiner's report indicating "no significant trauma could have caused Beasley's death," loved ones say they plan on moving forward in court.

According the medical examiner's report, their office never saw, in person, that plastic bag with the white substance. Instead, a picture was provided.

The attorney says the wrongful death suit will be filed by the end of this month.

He says at least five individuals with the Petersburg Sheriff's Office will be named in the suit.

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