May 8, 2014
CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Daniel Linsinbigler was a good kid. Like any other teenager, he’d made his share of mistakes.
One day Daniel made a choice to partake in the popular and once legal drug, synthetic marijuana.
Apparently suffering from a psychotic reaction to the substance, Daniel stripped naked and ran through a Stay Suites Inn in Orange Park. He was yelling bible scriptures and proclaiming he was Jesus, but did not hurt anyone, nor did he cause any property damage.
However he was arrested and jailed for 10 days. While in jail he was strapped into a restraint chair, pepper sprayed, hooded, and eventually asphyxiated and died.
Linsinbigler had been in jail for more than a week and, according to an inmate next to him, Linus Farr, wanted to make a written request to see his attorney. But while deputies apparently gave him the form, they would not give him anything to write with. He was on suicide watch which apparently barred him from pencil access.
Farr told investigators with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office,
“They were all making fun of him. They were calling him a Jesus freak, a God freak … [teasing him] about his religious beliefs: ‘God cant’ help you now. God can’t give you a pencil.”
According the the Jail employees, Linsinbigler’s agitation grew physical. He began kicking and punching his cell door. He was then tied down to a restraint chair.
That is when Sergeant Robert Heaps gave the order to Deputy Houldson to pepper spray the restrained boy.
“I did not want to even spray this guy,” Houldson told Internal Affairs. “I didn’t need to. I’m a big guy, controlling this guy was not going to be an issue for me at all. He was a fragile guy as it was.”
But he pepper sprayed him anyway.
As a reaction to being pepper sprayed, Linsinbigler began to produce a large volume of saliva and mucus. Officers, not wanting to get the boy’s fluids on them, covered his head with a nylon hood, known as a “spit mask.”
That would be the last time that that this 19 year old boy ever saw the light of day.
According to Farr, in the cell next door, “He started complaining that he was having chest pains: ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, get this hood off. I’m going to behave … Just let me get some air I have to be able to breathe.'”
Inmate John Jarvis, in an adjacent cell, gave a similar account. “He was begging to have [the hood removed], gasping, saying I can’t breath[e].”
Just after 9:00 am, Linsinbigler stopped screaming and squirming; his mouth hung open, skin turned grey, and was covered in saliva and mucus. Daniel Linsinbigler was dead.
One witness in a nearby jail cell, wrote a letter to the Public Defender’s Office.
Sir they killed that boy. He was gasping and begging, stating over and over, ‘I can’t breathe. Roll back the cameras — I only wanted a pencil.’
To date no one has been disciplined or fired. None of the officers on duty said that they heard any signs of distress. And of course, the jail officials said that their cameras did not record the incident.
“Every day after work I go out there and I just talk to Daniel and I play with the sand,” says his mom. “And I ask God to hold him until I can see him again …. When I think about him I don’t think about him laying on that cold floor naked I just I can’t. It will kill me if I do.”