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Wife suing in Lee County inmate's death

Jul. 2, 2010
Evidence video of Nicholas Christie in jail
Evidence video of Nicholas Christie in jail: See sheriff's office video of Nicholas Christie in jail before he is taken to the hospital. The video freezes, and during that time Christie has trouble breathing, becomes combative and is restrained, according to public documents.


1:10 A.M. — The widow of a man who died after being repeatedly pepper-sprayed at the Lee County Jail has sued the sheriff, the jail’s health provider, deputies and nurses, alleging wrongful death, negligence and civil rights violations.

Nicholas Christie was arrested March 25, 2009, on charges of being drunk and disorderly after disturbances at North Fort Myers hotels. During booking, he provided his medical history, including a heart condition, emphysema, gout and depression. He was released the next day. He was then arrested March 27 for trespassing at a North Fort Myers restaurant.

In the two-day incarceration that followed, deputies pepper-sprayed him eight times, and twice sprayed inmates in his cell. Christie spent two days in jail before being taken to the hospital, where he died two days later, according to reports on the incident.

Joyce Christie, of Girard, Ohio, filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers. Two dozen defendants are named in the 59-page lawsuit.

In an e-mail, Sheriff Mike Scott wrote that he saw video of Christie speaking with corrections officers before entering an ambulance. Scott wrote that an EMS crew took Christie past Lee Memorial Hospital to Gulf Coast Medical Center. He also wrote that Joyce Christie was “reluctant to provide us with her husband’s medical information at the time of booking.”

But the lawsuit contends that Nicholas Christie carried with him and officers took a hold of a list of 10 medications he took and their dosages. The lawsuit states corrections officers denied him access to those medications as well as adequate medical and mental health screening.

“My thoughts and prayers remain with Joyce Christie and her family,” the sheriff wrote.

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