HUNTINGTON – The mother of a man who hanged himself in a Huntington police holding cell is suing the city.

Carrie Lynn Dickerson, the mother and administratrix of the estate of Caleb Matthew Dickerson, filed a lawsuit June 26 in U.S. District Court. Named as defendants are the city of Huntington, Police Chief Skip Holbrook and unnamed police officers and city employees.

According to the complaint, Caleb was arrested on Dec. 21, 2008, by two Huntington police officers on a charge of breaking and entering. He was taken to a holding cell at the police department while awaiting transfer to the Western Regional Jail.

While in the holding cell, he used his belt to hang himself by wrapping the belt around the bars of the cell and leaning forward with enough force to asphyxiate, the complaint says. He died four days later at the age of 27.

Caleb Matthew was a Huntington resident. His mother lives in Ashland, Ky.

The complaint says the defendants were negligent in not screening Caleb Matthew for illness and for allowing him to keep his belt and other items with him while in the cell.

"The defendants' deliberate indifferences by not removing Matthew's belt, shoe laces and other articles that are standard items to be removed upon incarceration are the direct and proximate cause of the death of Matthew," the complaint says.

The complaint blames the defendants for violating Caleb Matthew's right to due process and for negligence in not preventing his suicide.

The plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Carl E. Hostler is representing the plaintiff.

U.S. District Court case number: 3:09-0725

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