San Diego County to settle lawsuit in 16-year-old’s suicide

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego County has agreed to pay $1 million to the family of a 16-year-old girl who killed herself while in a juvenile detention facility.

A settlement approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors this week will resolve a lawsuit filed by the parents of 16-year-old Rosemary Summers, who hanged herself with a bedsheet at the facility in September 2013. She died four days later.

The family’s lawsuit against the county alleged that the teenager told county employees of suicidal thoughts, that the facility was understaffed the night she hanged herself, and that her mental health issues were potentially amplified by overmedication.

As part of the settlement, which does not constitute an admission of guilt, county officials said they are making changes to prevent future suicides at the Kearny Mesa juvenile hall facility, including improvements in training.

County spokeswoman Michele said in a statement that Summers’ death was the first suicide by a juvenile in county probation custody in 32 years.

“Providing a safe environment for youth in custody is the highest priority for the probation department and their staff,” she said.

Summers’ family attorney, Gerald Singleton, told KNSD-TV in San Diego that the teen would still be alive if staff at the facility had been properly trained about its own suicide policies.

Singleton also said that staff who found Summers hanging in her room took several minutes to cut her down because they couldn’t find scissors or a knife.

“In a situation like this, every minute counts,” he said.

An online memorial set up by Summers’ mother says the teen was “one of the brightest spirits this world has ever known. She touched so many lives in her short years here on Earth.”

Summers was staying at the juvenile facility after violating the terms of her probation by attending a rally for Trayvon Martin, the black teen killed in a controversial shooting in Florida, without telling her probation officer, according to The Los Angeles Times.

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