WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — A settlement has been reached in the case of a woman who died in the custody of Walker County Jail in 2018. 

The settlement was reached on Thursday between plaintiff Michael W. Harris, father of Autumn Harris, and defendant Preemptive Forensic Health Solutions, the medical care department at the jail in 2018. The contents of the settlement were not specified in court records.

Autumn Harris, 34, died in 2018 after spending just three weeks at the Walker County Jail on a theft of property charge. On June 9, 2020, her family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against PFHS on the basis that their daughter was denied proper medical treatment while incarcerated.  

“Her and a friend of hers sort of got into an altercation,” Michael Harris said. “But that’s what it was over, 40 bucks.”

Autumn Harris was then released on bond and set to appear in court again in August 2018. She failed to appear for the hearing and the court issued a warrant for her arrest. On November 13, 2018, Harris was arrested, her bond was revoked and her new hearing was set for Dec. 6, 2018.

Harris never made it to that hearing. On December 5, 2018, she died. An autopsy report revealed she died as a result of pneumonia, where her lungs were full of infection and fluid.

“I don’t think they did anything for her,” Michael Harris said. “I think if anything had been done for her, she’d still be here today.”

Mike Harris, a manager at Collins Burke Funeral Home in Jasper, said the jail never contacted him regarding his daughter’s death. Instead, he found out through the coroner when he arrived at work that morning. 

The family’s lawyer maintained that Autumn Harris’ medical condition was overlooked by medical staff.

“During the day on Dec. 1 she’s asking, ‘I can’t breathe, I need an inhaler’,” Jones said. “She has a history of asthma. They tell her, ‘You don’t have an inhaler on file. There’s nothing we can do for you.’ This happens again on Dec. 2.”

According to court records, officials at the Walker County Jail were aware that Harris had pneumonia when she was booked. Those same records additionally noted that she had proper medication for her sickness when she arrived. Jones said that as far as they can tell, Harris did not receive any of her medication.

“Something’s got to be done because folks are being neglected at this county jail,” Michael Harris said.

In addition to Harris, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office is currently facing a wrongful death lawsuit after the death of Anthony “Tony” Mitchell on Jan. 26, who allegedly froze to death while in custody.