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Erie County deputies "literally watched" India Cummings die, sued by family

Posted at 10:08 AM, Feb 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-04 13:55:33-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Years after India Cummings died, right after spending time in the Erie County Holding Center, her family is suing six-dozen Erie County Sheriff's deputies.

The federal lawsuit claims some of those 72 deputies, "assigned to observe Cummings literally watched her die and documented the same."

They say her constitutional rights were violated, in that these deputies deprived Cummings of humane treatment inside the Erie County Holdings Center and Cummings "was deprived of due process and otherwise tortuously and maliciously harmed by the actions of the defendants..."

Three deputies named in the lawsuit, John Dunn, Tysen Lincoln and Lance Thurston are specifically named in this lawsuit. Each filed criminal charges against Cummings while she was in the Holding Center. The lawsuit says those charges were dropped because of Cummings' mental state.

"...said defendants were criminalizing Cummings' mental illness by lodging criminal charges against Cummings as opposed to providing her with the medical care she needed," the lawsuit alleges.

According to the lawsuit, Cummings told officials, "I'm dying" but stayed in the Holding Center, "with the Defendants continuing to show deliberate indifference to her medical needs."

Medical records, according to the lawsuit, show Cummings was not eating and was not drinking as she should.

On February 17, 2016, the lawsuit states "Cummings 'became unconscious' per ECHC notes and had no observable heart rate or respiration. Cummings was then transported to Buffalo General Hospital where she remained until her death on February 21, 2016."

The New York State Attorney General is investigating Cummings' death.

A state report from July claimed the holding center was grossly negligent. It said Cummings was deprived of medical care and water. The report also stated “her death was attributed to traumatic injury she received during her arrest and a prolonged period continual of medical neglect.”

We have reached out to the Erie County Sheriff's Office for a comment. We have not yet heard back.