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Salt Lake County has settled a lawsuit filed by the family of a man who died of starvation and dehydration at the county jail.
The dollar amount and other terms of the settlement were not available Friday, but the agreement was confirmed by a filing in federal court and by an attorney representing the family of Carlos Umana, the 19-year-old who withered from 175 pounds when he was booked to 77 at his death four months later.
The plaintiff attorney, Bob Sykes, said his clients are satisfied with the settlement and with changes that have occurred at the Salt Lake County Jail since Umana died.
"I believe [the clients are] confident steps have been taken to avoid this kind of problem in the future," Sykes said.
Sykes said he got the impression the jail staff and the jail's health services contractor "were sincerely concerned" about what happened to Umana.
A settlement also was reached with MHM Correctional Services, Inc., a contractor who provides medical care at the jail.
A lawyer for MHM did not return an after-hours message seeking comment.
In response to questions on Thursday, Salt Lake County sheriff's Lt. Pam Lofgreen issued a statement saying the jail has changed some policies found to be factors in Umana's death and is still evaluating others.
"Training and evaluation of our procedures are constantly ongoing, and we will continue to strive to provide the very best care possible for our prisoner population," Lofgreen said.
Umana's family has said he suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and had gone off his medication before his arrest on Oct. 27, 2010. That's when he stabbed his mother's boyfriend in the back with a small kitchen knife at their home in Magna, they say. The boyfriend was preparing a meal at the time. Court documents say Umana believed the man was trying to poison him.
Prosecutors charged Umana with attempted murder, and he was awaiting trial at the time of his death.
Sykes' office earlier this month gave The Tribune documents related to Umana's time at the jail.
On Jan. 19, Umana was pounding the door to his cell at the Salt Lake County Jail, crying, yelling and asking why he couldn't see his family.
When mental health staff arrived to speak with him, according to jail documents, he sat on his bunk with a bed sheet over his head. He was still crying.
After Umana's yelling and crying, jail staff moved Umana to another cell for what documents call a "12-hour cool down."
Jail staff also accused Umana of violating rules, causing unnecessary noise and committing disorderly conduct. The jail held an administrative hearing the next day where Umana could have responded to the accusations, but the documents don't indicate if there was any outcome.
Instead, a mental health professional placed an X next to a line in a jail form reading, "Prisoner found to be not capable of understanding the rules and regulations associated with the prisoner disciplinary hearing."
Also on Jan. 20, an investigator's report said, jail staff moved Umana out of the general population and into a cell in the health services unit so he could be kept under more intense observation. Umana remained in that unit until his death.
But according to another report, a nurse told a sheriff's investigator after Umana's death that Umana "persistently denied all medical calls and treatments." The nurse also said the medical staff was concerned because Umana had not been eating or drinking "for several days." Two prisoners in the health services unit also said he had not been eating regularly.
A guard told an investigator that staff was to meet the day of Umana's death to decide whether to force-feed him.
Jail staff are supposed to check on inmates in the health services unit every 15 minutes. Documents show on the day of Umana's death, a guard in the final hour of his shift did the checks at 5:07 a.m. and 5:55 a.m.
Lofgreen declined to discuss the missed checks, again citing litigation with Umana's family.
About 6:05 a.m., another guard found Umana in his cell kneeling over the toilet. Umana did not respond to commands. When two guards entered the cell two minutes later, Umana had no pulse. Paramedics arrived and pronounced Umana dead.
A review by jail staff after Umana's death recommended staff be better trained to "recognize and report health conditions that may pose imminent threat to prisoner safety." The review also said mental and physical problems in inmates must be better documented.
The review also recommended changing jail policy to address inmates who may not be competent to address their own health and safety. Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder has said the old jail policy assumed inmates who refused to eat were of sound mind.
Investigator documents elaborate on Carlos Umana's physical deterioration during his four months behind bars. When he was booked into the jail on Oct. 27, 2010, Umana was listed as 5 feet 3 inches tall and 175 pounds with a body mass index of 27.6. A normal index is 18.5 to 24.9.
At his autopsy, Umana weighed 77 pounds, according to a jail investigator's report, which cites the autopsy conclusions, and he had a body mass index of 13.
Also, the report says, almost all of Umana's primary organs weighed half what is normal and his brain weighed two-thirds of what is normal.