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Federal lawsuit filed against Cole Co. Sheriff’s Department

A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against Cole County Sheriff Greg White, Captain John Wheeler, and the Cole County Sheriff’s Department.

Of all the lawsuits that have been filed over the years, this is the first one that has included Captain John Wheeler’s name.

Wheeler is running for Cole Co. Sheriff in 2016.

The lawsuit alleges that the department has “an unlawful practice of limiting detainees to a single set of clothing and undergarments and requiring detainees and inmates to be naked during the laundering of that clothing or remain in dirty clothing.”

The lawsuit claims the Cole Co. Sheriff’s Department has violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment and the 8th Amendment’s proscriptions of cruel and unusual punishment.

It also reads, “the defendants’ actions are in violation of the due process clause found in article I, section 10 of the Missouri Constitution, requiring that adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and reasonable safety be provided to detainees at the jail.”

The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of Justin Simmons, Brian Boykin, and Fineola Ingram who are represented by Roger Brown and Associates and Carson and Coil.

According to electronic court documents there is a demand for $100,000,000.

ABC 17 News has learned Roger Brown is an attorney who has often been associated with the Fraternal Order of Police, an organization Randy Dampf has been a spokesman for. Dampf is an opponent running against Captain John Wheeler in the 2016 race for sheriff.

ABC 17 will be asking parties involved if politics played a role in the filing of this lawsuit since Wheeler has never been named in another Cole Co. Sheriff’s Department lawsuit.

Michael Berry, the attorney for Sheriff Greg White, told ABC 17 News the inmates are issued one set of underclothing and one set of over clothing, and are never required to have them laundered at the same time.

Additional over clothing is available for purchase, and the laundering is always done at night when inmates are sleeping, said Berry.

A hearing was held Friday morning there was a motion for a temporary restraining order, which would have required the jail to stop its current laundry policy. However, the court denied that motion, so the Cole Co. Jail can continue its current practices.

The next scheduled hearing is August 14 at 10:00 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Jefferson City.

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