On January 22, a 32-year-old Dallas County Jail inmate named Gregory Kitchen was pepper-sprayed -- twice, in the face -- by guards who,according to a report released in March
, also choked him from behind while kneeling on his back. Less than a minute later, he stopped breathing. And just like that, Gregory Kitchen, who'd survived 13 years in the U.S. Army,was dead
This morning, his wife, Denise, a staff sergeant in the Army Reserve, filed a federal lawsuit against Dallas County and the still-unnamed guards, claiming they displayed a "deliberate, callous, and conscious indifference" when depriving her husband of his Constitutional right to breathing. She's seeking an undisclosed amount of money in damages and a jury trial. The suit follows.
Kitchen was in jail following his arrest by in January by Mesquite police, who, according to public records, brought him in on charges of burglary of a habitation, sexual assault and abandonment of a child with the intention of returning. But the lawsuit reiterates a point made in the March autopsy: Gregory was an Iraq War veteran "with a known history of post-traumatic stress disorder and recent psychotic episodes." The Army will not confirm Kitchen's medical history nor the circumstances of his discharge two years ago, per Privacy Act protections. But military records show Kitchen did indeed serve in Iraq -- and was the recipient of its commendation medal and, twice, its good conduct medal.
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Ray Gall, in Public Affairs at the Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, provides the following: Kitchen, a native of Florida, enlisted in September 1995 and was discharged in February 2008 at the rank of sergeant. He was a carpentry and masonry specialist who, according to the Army's files, "performs general heavy carpentry, structural shell, and masonry duties, to include fabrication, erection, maintenance, and repair of rigging devices, trusses, and other structural assemblies."
Kitchen finished his required active service in January 2000 and was transferred to the Army Reserve; three years later he transferred into the Active Guard and Reserve and became a unit supply specialist, who -- again, as defined by the Army -- "is primarily responsible for supervising or performing tasks involving the general upkeep and maintenance of all Army supplies and equipment." He served with the 909th AG Company (Postal) in Bothell, Washington, until his discharge in '08. The Army also confirms: Kitchen served in Iraq from December 2004 to December 2005. And during his stint in the Army, he received myriad awards, among them the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal (both, twice).
Denise Kitchen's a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve Active Guard and based out of Mesquite. Messages have been left for her attorney, Aubrey "Nick" Pittman. Since the suit was filed only today, it's unlikely the county's even been served.