Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Sued For Wrongful Death

Mitchell Brad Martinez, 37, died while in custody.
Mitchell Brad Martinez, 37, died while in custody. (Photo: Indian River County Sheriff's Office)

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office by the ex-wife of an inmate who died last year while in custody.

Mitchell Brad Martinez, 37, arrived at the Indian River County Jail May 28, 2015. Deputies found Martinez unconscious in a van and transported him to Indian River Medical Center. He died 5 days later.

Chief Medical Examiner Roger Mittleman ruled the cause of death to be an adverse reaction to Adderall. Detectives accepted the findings and closed their investigation.

However, family members allege that Martinez sustained neck abrasions and internal trauma, which they believe is the real cause of death.

Sheriff Deryl Loar and Deputy Christopher Sharkey are named as the defendants in the lawsuit.

Deputy Sharkey is accused of intentional battery, wrongful death action and neglect, and for allegedly assaulting Martinez after he was placed in the van, according to the lawsuit.

Sheriff Loar has claims against him for negligence.

Lawyers for Jill Alexander, Martinez’s ex-wife, say a camera at the courthouse recorded parts of the time period Martinez was being loaded into the van. The video is missing 62 seconds from that time. The Sheriff’s Office said the courthouse cameras are turned on and off by a motion sensor. Once Martinez was in the van, the camera had paused.

Martinez was at the courthouse because the State Attorney’s Office said he violated the conditions of his bail for three charges from a 2013 aggravated assault case. A judge ruled Martinez violated his bail by contacting one of the three victims he assaulted, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Alexander is asking for at least $75,000 in damages, according to the lawsuit. She is represented by attorney Kevin Smith of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey and Fronrath in West Palm Beach.

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About Scott Lee
Scott Lee is a columnist and reporter for Sebastian Daily. Scott moved to Indian River County in 2015 and has been writing for various publications for approximately 30 years. Currently, he writes part-time and manages a featured column about local businesses in Sebastian and Vero Beach.