Wrongful death lawsuit being filed after National Guard vet dies at Cuyahoga County Jail

Published: May. 7, 2021 at 9:12 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The family of a National Guard veteran is seeking justice, saying the staff at the Cuyahoga County Jail failed to take proper steps to prevent the death of their loved one.

The family is now filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the jail’s officials and employees.

Nicholas Colbert, 36, was a father of four young girls. He was also a National Guard veteran, who served a tour in northern Africa and was honorably discharged.

After suffering a broken collarbone Nick’s family said he sought treatment at the V.A. Hospital and became addicted to pain medication. That addiction later landed him in the Cuyahoga County Jail.

Nick’s mother, Laura Colbert, hoped time in jail would help straighten her son out, get him away from drugs, and stop him from dying from an overdose. She never imagining jail would be the thing that led to her son’s demise.

“I chose to not pay his bail, because I wanted him to remain there, get cleaned up,” Laura told 19 News, saying that’s now her biggest regret.”I didn’t realize how bad it was.”

Nick died in his cell just two days after being booked. His family said he used a string from his hoodie to take his own life. Monday marks two years since his death. At the time, Nick became the ninth person to die inside the troubled jail in less than a year.

“I can’t even imagine somebody else going through what we went through the past years,” said Nick’s brother, Daniel Colbert.

Nick’s family said he told the jail staff how he tried to commit suicide just weeks before arrested.

And despite that, the family said Nick still wasn’t properly looked after, checked upon or given medication or counseling.

“Inspection logs were falsified with incorrect information reflecting rounds were being made when they weren’t,” said the family’s lawyer, Paul Cristallo.

The family said they hope the lawsuit will not only bring about justice, but ensure that a preventable tragedy like this never happens again.

19 News reached out to the county for a response, and a spokesperson said once they receive the lawsuit the law department will review it.

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