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The jail log for the old downtown Greensboro jail where Armstrong was awaiting trial contained a report from a detention officer, who begins his account with a briefing that he or she received from another officer on the morning of Monday, Dec. 27.
"During his briefing [another detention officer] stated that inmate Armstrong was in holding cell number one in the restraint chair. He stated that inmate Armstrong was on suicide watch and that he had been in and out of the restraint chair all weekend due to threatening and assaultive behavior. Several times throughout the shift, I visually checked inmate Armstrong and spoke with him each time asking him if he was okay. Each time he relayed that he was all right. At one point during the shift, Nurse [redacted] did a check of his restraints. She stated that [rest of sentence redacted]. I then entered the cell and loosened them slightly and Nurse [remainder of sentence redacted]. Right before 1600 hours, I went to the holding cell and in the presence of [officers name redacted] asked inmate Armstrong if he was ready to come out fo [sic] the restraint chair. He then replied that he was ready and that he wanted something to eat. He stated several times over the next thirty seconds or so that he was ready to come out of the chair. I advised SGT [redacted] of this and she stated that he could be removed. Nurse [redacted] was then called to the main floor to observe inmate Armstrong while he was being removed from the restraint chair. I removed his left shoulder strap and the waist strap. I then loosened both leg straps so he could remove his legs. After that, I maintained control of his handcuffs while OFC [redacted] removed them. He reentered holding cell number one and laid down on a single mattress without a blanket."
This report continues at 4:14 p.m. with the narrator and several other officers standing around the cell observing Armstrong because he was incoherent and had "urinated in the floor of his cell."
"I mopped the urine and visually saw inmate Armstrong breathing and making mumbling sounds. As I exited the cell, I asked him if he was going to eat his dinner tray and he crossed his arms over his chest and made mumbling sounds. Within a few minutes, OFC's [redacted] and [redacted] called out and stated that inmate Armstrong was unresponsive in the holding cell. I then responded and entered with OFC [redacted]. I grabbed his right hand and held it and tried to talk to Armstrong. He did not respond so I [five lines of redacted text follow].
There are highly regulated procedures in the use of restraining chairs – such as how often the inmate must be observed and how often he or she must be released from the chair and walked around. The start and end times of confinement in the chair must be documented. However, it's not clear how long Armstrong was confined in it.
Accounts conflict as to whether Armstrong was kept in the chair longer than allowed, but there seems to be much agreement that proper procedures regarding the use and/or documentation of the restraining chair were not followed.
One source said the $475,000 settlement payout from Guilford County
in this case was a small amount compared to what the family was being paid by Corizon/Prison Health Services.
One person who was in the closed sessions pertaining to the case said that, when Hill spoke to the board, he was emotional as he recounted the events.
"He seemed to be on the verge of tears," the source said.
Another person, who was a commissioner at the time of the closed session and was present in the briefing, said there was video from the jail that, at some point in the time leading up to the death, showed jail guards escorting Armstrong down a hallway, which meant that Armstrong was up and out of the chair at least at that moment.
While questions regarding the length of time Armstrong was restrained remains, other details are known. At or around 4:30 p.m., according to one report, jail staff went to alert onsite medical staff and have them respond to the situation. Those reports seem to indicate a substandard response from some nurses and also indicate that the jail lacked a charged oxygen tank that should be kept on hand for responding to the medical emergencies such as that experienced by Armstrong.
One incident report states: "I, OFC [redacted], was making juice cups for the evening meal when I heard a call on the radio for the nurse to [sic] main floor from SGT [redacted]. I went to the nurse's station and advised the four nurses that were in the office. I was then asked by Nurse [redacted] in a rude uncooperative tone why did they need them? I responded with 'I didn't know.' I heard her complaining so I told her that 'SGT [redacted] is the one that called for you so you can call her if you would like.' The response I got was, 'I will.' A few seconds later all four nurses came around the corner and I heard nurse [redacted] came back [sic] to A-floor and asked me to let her in the nurse's station so she could get the oxygen. The cart was empty and the tank in the office was empty so we had to go in the storage room and I had to get a new tank and hook it up and take it to main. [The nurse] had to come back again and get the breathing mask a few minutes after that."
A Dec. 29, 2010 report states that [Armstrong's mother] was informed of her son's death.
"I informed her of inmate Armstrong's death," the officer stated. "She of course took the news very hard but made comments to questions or comments I made during times when she was composed."
A review of county liability payouts shows that this was the largest payout of this kind by the county in the last five years, and a longtime county employee familiar with liability payouts from the county's legal liability fund said that to his knowledge this was the largest payout ever by the county to settle a legal claim.