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Wife seeks $34 million from Newport Beach after husband hangs himself in jail

A Newport Beach woman is seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages from the city, claiming police erroneously arrested her husband who had bipolar disorder. Her husband then killed himself in jail.

Sandy Wedgeworth, 34, and family members filed four claims against Newport Beach this week seeking upward of $34 million for emotional distress, loss of a husband and father, and loss of future earnings.

William Robert Wedgeworth, 43, hanged himself with bedsheets in a Newport Beach Police Department jail cell July 31. Police had arrested him earlier in the day on suspicion of spousal abuse against his wife. She said she wanted her husband to get psychiatrict help, not be arrested.

"This is a sad and tragic loss," said Newport Beach City Atty. David Hunt. "We take it very seriously, and we've done a thorough investigation into the circumstances underlying it. We concluded there was nothing we could've done to prevent it. The jail is safe, and our officers did their job correctly."

Read the Daily Pilot story here.

RELATED:

Family of victim killed by since-fired LAPD officer awarded $1.7 million

Jury finds ex-LAPD officer liable in 2008 killing

-- Joseph Serna, Daily Pilot / Times Community News

 
Comments () | Archives (86)

Newport Beach Police, in my dealings over 15 years as a law abiding citizen, are rude and self-serving. They do not live up to the real-life good-cop creedo of "to serve and protect". More like "swerve and deflect" when they let a guy hang himself in that TINY jail! I guess the staff was too busy to keep an eye on their lone prisoner with disasterous results. I am very sorry for the family's loss and I do hold Newport Beach responsible. When you arrest someone, you are taking responsibility for thaty persons welfare, regardless of the crime being charged. What's next? Our prisons and police will be just as corrupt as other nasty places we Americans talk down and denegrate. Looks like we are becoming the animals we so loathe. God bless his soul and his family.

You arrest a man that is exhibiting strange behavior, you put him on suicide watch. Plain. Very simple.

Hey Bill, this is Newport Beach, not Pelican Bay state prison. Any person arrested who is even remotely half way tough will be removed from their jail. Even yet, they would be a straight transport to the county jail.

Newport Beach won't hold violent criminals.

By him not being under constant surveillance, and being able to take his own life, states that policy wasn't followed.

Paranoid much? The comments to this story are amusing and the wife's attitude is sad.

Do you really believe that the city makes money from incarcerating criminals? I'm pretty sure you will be one of the people to complain when the LA Times prints an article on how much it is costing our government to house inmates.

There are MANDATORY arrest laws in the case of domestic violence, the police department has no leeway in the matter. You can thank the domestic violence lobby for that, not the police. If the wife did not want her husband to be arrested for the crime he committed, she should not have called the law. People need to understand that the victim does not have to "press charges" for an arrest to be made, the state recognizes the crime regardless. Now this woman wants a payday. Hopefully the city will stand up for itself and she will get nothing.

"She said she wanted her husband to get psychiatrict help" How about "psychiatric" help?

Money money money !!!!!

He killed himself. Why is she suing?

If ever you call the police because someone is violent, it's important to make it clear if s/he has a mental illness. In L.A. County, there is an entire unit for mentally ill prisoners in the county jail. They are not given sheets and must wear seemless gowns (like a doctor's gown)or nothing at all, so they can't hurt themselves. Not all police departments are sensitive to this issue to be sure, but be as specific as you can as to the nature of the illness. This should never happen.

I fail to see why the police dept is at fault here. If they didn't arrest the man, the police dept would be at fault if something were to happen after they left. If they didn't give him sheets, ACLU and Gloria Alred would have been so far up the police dept's ass, they'd be coming out of their mouths. The wife said she wanted him to get help instead of being arrested. There are no field psychiatrists on call, so in order to get help, you have to go through the system (which means going to jail for the night). Also, cops are not professional psychiatrists. Their jobs are to arrest an offending individual, and give them a home until they appear on court or post bail.

I hate to hear about the loss of the husband, but the wife and family are being idiots. The city is not at fault here.

in other words.. she is trying to cash out a life insurance on the PD's dime....pathetic

$34 million? how did she come up with that outrageous amount? A get rich quick scheme by a sad individual. Money won't bring him back, but just make her more comfortable.

im glad 34 million can make losing a husband and father all better...

If you wanted him to get medical help, you shoud've taken him to the doctor. Not called the police and had him hauled off to jail.

Even if he was bipolar that is no excuse for spousal abuse and counseling for abusive men only works 8-10% of the time. And now for the lawsuit, are the cops to have cameras in every cell to watch every single thing that every single inmate does? You think the cops don't have anything better to do but be completely responsible for another's behavior? How much do we want to blame everybody else for another's behavior? He was obviously locked up for a reason, and his actions got him in the can. Blaming others for his choices aren't going to bring him back, or lesson the loss. Unfortunately his actions alone caused his own death, nobody else did, he did it. Looking for somebody to blame isn't going to change that. And besides loss of wages? Most low functioning bipolar folks can't work or even function in day to day existence being on disability.

Please remember...cops do no wrong, until they do, but then it's not a reflection on the police department.
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/01/officers-story-of-being-shot-was-inconsistent-from-the-beginning-chief-beck-says.html

Please also keep in mind that if it is your word versus a cop, you are a liar.

She calls the Police to help her for spouse abuse then
he goes to jail and he is so mad and dangerous that he
takes it out on himself what if he did that to HER!!!
I say that man was on he path to destruction!

She is an idiot!!!!!!!!!!! if her husband needed psychological help (and not to be arrested) why on earth did she call 911?????????????? Why, didn't she call social services, take her husband to a doctor, etc.
Our stipud judicial system that allows criminals and families of criminals to sue the police and the government for helping them is to blame. If she did not want the police she should NOT have called them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Police never ask anyone if there are any medical problem, they aresst people with disabilities such as diabetic, bipolar,etc.
They are wrong and should pay for the wife. He needed mental help only not aresst.
Stop the Police abuse. I witnessed once the police aressted a mentally disabled man and mistreated him.
I toke a VIDEO and the POLICE got FIRED>

When will people realize the intelligence of a cop is measured by his gun, taser, and night stick. those are his tools of trade now figure it out.

That's 34 million dollars the tax payer will be paying. I doubt that guy would have earned a million dollars throughout his life time.

This is so common: A woman is being abused and calls the police. When the police get there she expects them "to just talk to him". Then she gets upset when the police follow the law and arrest the guy for spousal abuse. Often, the spouse ends up attacking the officers who respond "because deep down she still loves him". This is why domestic disturbance calls are one of the most dangerous calls an officer can be dispatched to. It is in no way the police departments responsibility to get involved in your counseling needs. If this guy was bipolar, it was the couples/families responsibility to get the guy help, not the cities. Most likely, she did not notify the officers he was bipolar and potentially dangerous to himself, otherwise they could have put him under suicide watch. She was probably upset with him and figured what the heck, let him sit in a cell for a bit and cool off, never thinking it could escalate to this.

The police have an obligation legal and moral to keep the prisoners safe while in custody. The wife explained to the officers that her husband suffered from Bipolar disorder and the psyche ward at the hospital was the proper tack to take. This is a common practice. The physician on duty will medicate and if needed with police help restrain the subject and admit him. These police disregarded his wife's message that her husband was bipolar and instead took him to jail. They also did not tell the jailers or the jailers ignored the fact that he was Bipolar or they would have at least kept watch on him. People with this disorder have a very high suicide rate when off there meds. This is very sad and was completely avoidable. I hope a message is sent by the judge strong enough that will make all officers and departments who know or have been advised that the person that is in custody is mentally will will take more appropriate actions. A large settlement is what is needed here.

Correctly Does not mean right. When the officers arrive and the man is not responding in a way that they see fit or have been train to see fit he is arrested. Is this the right way to deal with every circumstance? Expand training to deal with certain people that have these so called medical conditions. and if these conditions do exist we need to create more commerce and jobs for people more rehab for our ever growing society of crazies.

This is negligence. $34 million could never make up for the loss of his life.

Police departments must be trained on how to respond to people with mental health problems.

 
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