Crime

He ate drugs before going to jail. His family says police are responsible for his death.

Horry County Sheriff addresses inmate deaths

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson discusses the recent inmate deaths at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center and how his staff undergoes training to handle incoming inmates' conditions.
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Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson discusses the recent inmate deaths at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center and how his staff undergoes training to handle incoming inmates' conditions.

A 39-year-old ate drugs during his arrest and later died while in jail custody. His family alleges in a new lawsuit that it’s the jail and police staff who are responsible for his death.

The family of Bryon Bland filed a lawsuit last month against Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach police, the Horry County Sheriff’s Office — which operates the jail — and J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

Myrtle Beach police arrested Bland in May 2017. During his arrest, Bland ate drugs that included fentanyl, a narcotic that treats severe pain. The suit alleges officials failed to protect Bland when they took him to two detention centers instead of a medical facility despite Bland showing obvious signs of intoxication and impairment.

Bland died at J. Reuben Long the following day. An autopsy showed he had a toxic level of fentanyl in his system, according to the filing.

The suit states the staff had a duty to provide Bland with medical care that included having him sent to a medical facility to be assessed by a doctor. The doctor would have “likely” provided life-saving care, the filing states.

Bland’s family alleges wrongful death and negligence and asks for an unspecified amount of damages.

Mark Kruea, spokesman for Myrtle Beach, and Brooke Holden, spokeswoman for the Horry County Sheriff’s Office, said it is policy not to comment on pending lawsuits.

Bland originally was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, neglect of a vulnerable adult and two counts of manufacturing, possessing and/or distributing a controlled substance.

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Alex Lang is the True Crime reporter for The Sun News covering the legal system and how crime impacts local residents. He says letting residents know if they are safe is a vital role of a newspaper. Alex has covered crime in Detroit, Iowa, New York City, West Virginia and now Horry County.

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