JUNEAU, Alaska (CN) – Police were not liable for the suicide of a drunk 16-year-old girl whom they released from custody, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled.
Justice Carpeneti ruled that although the Togiak police should have released Elsie Logusak to her parents, they did not breach their duty and were protected by sovereign immunity.
Logusak’s death added to her sad family history. One brother died in a snow-machine accident, while another brother shot himself in the shoulder in a botched suicide attempt.
On the night of her death, police returned Logusak to her parents and said they could not keep her in jail while she sobered up. She locked herself in her bedroom and shot herself as her father and police tried to open the door.
Carpeneti ruled that the responsibility for taking care of an intoxicated juvenile lies with the parents, not the police.
“The legislature recognized a heightened need to release a minor to her parents in situations where the minor is suspected of consuming alcohol,” Carpeneti wrote.