Lake County sheriff responds to lawsuit in inmate's death

The Lake County sheriff is denying responsibility in an in-custody death first exposed by 9 Investigates more than 18 months ago.

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — The Lake County sheriff is denying responsibility in an in-custody death first exposed by 9 Investigates more than 18 months ago.

Investigative reporter Karla Ray first uncovered that James Anglin asked for help repeatedly while withdrawing from drugs inside the Lake County jail, before seizing and dying. As a result of her reporting, the Sheriff's Office cut ties with the jail's third-party medical provider, Armor Correctional.

Anglin's mother is suing both Sheriff Peyton Grinnell and the jail deputies who were monitoring his pod.  A new court filing is the first response we've seen on behalf of Grinnell.

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The agency does not comment on pending litigation, but in a filing from this month an attorney for the sheriff turns the blame on Anglin for his death.

When we gave Pia Sacchetta the details about how her son died after being booked into the Lake County jail, she admitted she always worried his addictions would lead to his death.

"I knew one of these days I might unfortunately get this, I didn't want to believe it, and I didn't dwell on it.  But I never expected this at an institution that should've been watching," Sacchetta said at the time.

Grinnell's attorney wrote in a response to a lawsuit filed by Sacchetta that Anglin's death was "caused in whole or in part by the negligence and carelessness of the decedent," and that the fault should lie with the "actions of inactions of the Armor Correctional employees/nurses who were responsible to provide medical treatment."

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer says because Armor Correctional was contracted by the Sheriff's Office, the sheriff himself can still be sued.

"They're not absolved because some other person may be liable also; they have their own liability question under these circumstances," Sheaffer said.

The suit claims before his possession arrest, Anglin ingested a large amount of methamphetamine, and that shortly after he was booked he became violently ill, repeatedly vomiting, and was unable to walk.  Despite his condition, the suit alleges the detention deputies failed to act. The suit claiming Anglin's condition "would have been easily managed if he had received medical care" and that he "would have survived with no permanent injury."

"Once you're taken into custody you are under the care and commitment of the arresting agency," Sheaffer said.

This lawsuit has been moved to federal court.