Lawsuit filed in death of DuPage jail inmate

Posted5/14/2012 4:48 PM

The family of a Wheaton man who died after attempting suicide in the DuPage County jail has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the sheriff's office.

Christopher Colburn, 37, died at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield last May following his arrest on a felony theft charge, according to the complaint.

Colburn's family says the sheriff's office was negligent in monitoring him after he was moved from a suicide watch for high-risk inmates to an "emotional watch" area. The lawsuit says sheriff's officials knew or should have known that he was suicidal with mental-health and addiction issues.

The lawsuit filed Thursday says Colburn "incurred conscious pain and suffering" but does not say how he died. His official death certificate lists the manner and cause of death as "pending investigation."

Neither a sheriff's representative nor the attorney representing Colburn's family could be reached for comment Monday.

Colburn had a lengthy criminal history in DuPage, including arrests on misdemeanor charges of battery, disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, resisting a peace officer, attempted obstruction of justice and criminal trespass to a vehicle, according to court records.

In the felony theft case, Colburn was accused of stealing a television valued at more than $500 from a man in Milton Township. He was arrested May 12, 2011, and died six days later.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages and names as defendants the sheriff's office, three deputies and three other employees. It goes before a judge Aug. 7.

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