Hamilton County Jail staff neglected to help a 2017 murder suspect who showed signs of mental anguish before hanging himself in custody, a lawsuit alleges.
Tyree Corley showed "outward signs of suicidal behavior," including a self-inflicted cut on his left wrist, but jailers didn't properly monitor or screen the 22-year-old after he was booked in late July 2017 on murder and aggravated robbery charges, attorney Robin Flores wrote in a lawsuit filed in Hamilton County's Circuit Court.
Flores is bringing the wrongful death and negligence suit, filed on June 14, on behalf of Corley's next of kin. They are asking for $700,000 and say Hamilton County government failed to train jailers to identify and properly respond to people showing suicidal behavior or signs of other mental health disorders.
"The lack of training was the direct and proximate cause of the Deceased's unnecessary pain and suffering, humiliation, injuries, and resulted in Deceased's death," Flores wrote.
Rheubin Taylor, the county attorney, declined Thursday to comment. But his office was served with a copy of the lawsuit last month, meaning Taylor's office will respond soon.
From there, lawyers will exchange evidence and work toward a settlement, dismissal or trial.
Corley faced charges of first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery after Chattanooga police said he shot and killed 45-year-old Kathy Hardy during a robbery on July 16, 2017.
According to court documents, Shawn Hardy, the victim's husband, told police he and his wife were on a pier in Renaissance Park shortly after midnight when three men approached them and demanded all of their belongings.
Shawn Hardy said one of the men had a goatee and fired three shots from his gun. Shawn Hardy said he managed to escape by going over the rail, swimming to shore and flagging down a security guard. But Kathy Hardy was shot and found dead on the pier.
Police said a witness saw three men in a "brisk" and "determined" walk from the park toward Cherokee Boulevard and Manufacturers Road. Nearby surveillance footage captured the men getting into a waiting car that had been sitting with all its lights off until the men approached.
Investigators also learned the vehicle matched the description of one possibly used in a recent robbery on North Market Street less than a mile from the murder scene. Corley, a suspect in that case, also fit the description given by Shawn Hardy, who identified Corley in a photo lineup as the man who shot his wife.
In the lawsuit, Corley's next-of-kin said he denied committing the crime. After authorities filed charges, he was brought to the Hamilton County Jail and attempted suicide on July 27. Corley was transported to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.