Counties told to pay $300K for Indian athlete's death in jail

Two counties in Montana have been ordered to pay $300,000 in connection with the death of A.J. Longsoldier.

Longsoldier was 18 when he died in November 2009 after complaining of feeling sick. According to a coroner who testified at a state inquiry, the star athlete was suffering from severe effects of alcohol withdrawal at a detention facility in Hill County.

The Montana Human Rights Commission determined that officials in Hill and Blaine counties discriminated against Longsoldier due to chemical dependency. He was not provided adequate medical treatment even though it was "obvious" that he needed help, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry said in a decision on Tuesday.

When the counties finally took action, Longsoldier was transported to a health facility on the Fort Belknap Reservation -- about 47 miles from the jail, the decision noted. Yet there was a hospital just a few blocks away, where he died more than 24 hours later.

"Taking into account all of the relevant facts, a reasonable amount to rectify the emotional distress Longsoldier suffered is $300,000.00, for which the two counties are jointly and severally liable," the decision stated.

Longsoldier was a standout basketball player who led his team at Fort Belknap to a state championship. He had enrolled at Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas after high school.

Longsoldier's mother, Dayna Bear, is a community health representative for the Fort Belknap Tribe. His father, Allen Longsoldier Sr., is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota.

Get the Story:
Counties ordered to pay $300,000 in Longsoldier's death (The Great Falls Tribune 3/20)
Discrimination ruling upheld in Native American teen's jail death (AP 3/21)

Relevant Documents:
Stricker (Longsoldier) v Blaine County and Hill County (March 19, 2013)

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