Sebastian County Inmate Found Injured Has Died

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — The Sebastian County Corner has declared a disabled Sebastian County inmate dead Saturday (Sept. 15).

An investigation is underway after the man was found severely injured in his cell on Wednesday (Sept. 12) morning.

John David Davenport, 25, was taken to Sparks Hospital after a deputy noticed Davenport on the floor of his cell around 6:51 a.m. — about 10 minutes after Davenport spoke to the same deputy, according to Capt. Philip Pevehouse with the Sebastian County Sheriff's Office.

The deputy, who thought Davenport may have hit his head, called medical personnel and Davenport was taken to Sparks Hospital.

Family members told 5NEWS Davenport was brain dead in the hospital.

Pevehouse said Davenport suffers from seizures and takes medication for them. He added officials don't know whether Davenport's injury is from a fall or seizure.

A review of jail video didn't reveal anyone entering the cell between the deputy's welfare checks, but an internal investigation is ongoing, Pevehouse said.

Davenport was in protective custody due to his mental disability and was placed on 15-minute checks.

Davenport was arrested Monday (Sept. 10) at a Bost facility in Fort Smith after allegedly getting combative with police and spitting in an officer's face, according to Lt. Wes Milam with the Fort Smith Police Department.

Milam said police were called to Bost, which is a group that helps people with developmental disabilities because Davenport's caretakers asked for assistance due to his behavior. Police arrived and said Davenport was calm at first but became combative when officers tried to subdue him.

Milam said Davenport spat in the face of an officer. Under Arkansas State Law, spitting at a law enforcement officer is considered aggravated assault, which is a Class D felony.

Families members are wondering why Davenport was put in jail when he isn't capable of taking care of himself.

Darla Earles, Davenport's cousin, said, "Most people with disabilities such as that would have been taken to a hospital for medication management. They could have sedated him there and figure out what was going on, why was he being aggressive, did he need a medication change, but instead they took him to jail."

“We are always looking for any type of alternative for treatment other than incarceration. When somebody has these types of mental illnesses, we want to find the best care that is available, obviously, but we are also bound by state law,” according to Milam.

He says law enforcement does have alternatives including the crisis stabilization unit, but Davenport was combative, so that was not an option.

Milam added that police also had a signed court order to place him under arrest, so it’s their duty to be bound by the law and affect that arrest.

Bost released a statement about the situation surrounding Davenport.

"All of us at Bost were involved in the efforts to assist John and believed we were about to take steps that would help him. At this point, we are busy gathering information and trying to come to an understanding.