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Juvy Center Accused of Ignoring Suicide Risk

ATLANTA (CN) - A 14-year-old boy killed himself at an Atlanta juvenile detention center after being placed in solitary confinement and warning officers of his suicide attempts, his parents claims in court.

A minor identified in court documents as J.D. was in the care of the Metro Regional Youth Detention Center, a facility run by the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

He was "grossly mistreated and kept in deplorable conditions," which caused him to attempt suicide several times until he was successful, according to a lawsuit filed by Denise Butler and Jimmy Davidson in Federal Court.

The Dec. 7 complaint says J.D. was placed in solitary confinement before his April 5, 2015, suicide.

The 14-year-old should have been released from solitary by 6 p.m. on April 4, but he was not, according to the lawsuit. Detention center officers are accused of ignoring J.D. on April 5 after he allegedly told them he was going to commit suicide

"It was his fifth suicide attempt in a matter of weeks. In the first four, the staff intervened to save J.D. This time, the officer then simply walked away," the complaint states. "A short time later, the officer was informed that J.D. was hanging from the ceiling. The officer did not bother to attempt to rescue J.D. Instead he waited 20 minutes before even going to J.D.'s cell. By that time J.D. was, of course, dead."

The wrongful death lawsuit says the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice officials named as defendants, including Commissioner Avery Niles, "are those responsible for the operation of the detention center and J.D.'s death."

According to the complaint, the department's own internal investigation found that J.D.'s suicide "was the result of widespread, systemic failings throughout the department."

J.D.'s parents seek an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages. They are represented by Matthew Harman in Atlanta.

The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice declined to comment on pending litigation.

Earlier this month, a federal judge approved a $2.5 million settlement barring a San Francisco Bay Area juvenile detention center from using 24-hour solitary confinement as punishment.

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