Central VA Jail Faces $10 Million Lawsuit After Man Dies in Custody

Posted: Updated: Jun 04, 2015 10:57 PM

The Central Virginia Regional Jail is facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit for what one woman calls torture. In a suit filed Tuesday, a Culpeper woman claims her son was deliberately denied medical treatment which eventually killed him.

The woman says people at the jail knew her son was suffering from alcohol and heroin withdrawal and refused to treat him even after he experienced vomiting, stomach pain and a seizure.

Sherry Lynn Thornhill claims her son, Shawn Christopher Berry, died just over 48 hours after he arrived at the regional jail. Berry was arrested in Orange County last August on drug and fraud charges across Virginia and Maryland.

Former jail Superintendent Glenn Aylor, the Central Virginia Regional Jail Authority, and others who work at the jail are named as defendants in the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges the jail did not follow special procedures for treating inmates suffering from withdrawal.

Thornhill is asking for $10 million in damages. She also wants to see the federal government take over the jail until it can ensure inmates receive proper medical treatment.

Thornhill's lawyer released a statement on behalf of the family, saying "We pray for justice for Shawn. We believe that the Central Virginia Regional Jail treated Shawn inhumanely and denied him proper medical care. By filing this lawsuit, we hope to prevent other families from having to go through the intense grief and nightmare that we have been living since Shawn died."

The chairman of the jail authority says he's aware of the suit but can't comment on it. Several other authority members have indicated that the institution is not able to comment at this time, but that we should reach out in the coming days. We will include their comment here, should they issue one regarding this matter.

  • Sign Up for Email Alerts

    Sign up to receive news, weather, and breaking news emails from the NBC29 newsroom in your inbox daily.

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.