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While Jackson County says protocol was followed, inmate’s family says jail was negligent in death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- FOX 4 is learning more about a Jackson County jail inmate who died only a few hours after being taken into custody. The county says the correct procedures were followed, but others accuse the jail of negligence.

"How the hell did you die handcuffed to a chair?" Ashely Degraffenreid asked.

Ashley Degraffenreid is still stunned that her ex-husband and father of her 12-year-old daughter is dead. Richard Degraffenreid, 35, was arrested on a parole violation late Thursday night. Just a few short hours after getting into the Jackson County jail, Ashley got frantic messages from Richard's mom and sister, saying he had been rushed to the hospital.

"We are here. They're doing chest compressions and don't think he's going to make it," Ashley said.

The county says the inmate was combative and put into restraints after he was brought to the jail at 11 p.m. Thursday. Staff says he was checked on frequently over a two-and-a-half hour period. When they determined there was a medical problem, nurses rushed in and then he was hospitalized. Shortly after 3 a.m., he was dead.

"I think they don't care and look at them like they're not humans. They are in jail so they must be bad people. They're not bad people. I know Richard. He was not a bad person. He would've given anybody the shirt off his back," said Ashley.

Richard's death is the latest in a string of incidents at the jail, ranging from inmates attacking guards to guard arrests and an ongoing federal investigation. Ashley Degraffenreid knows Richard had a troubled past, but says he was trying his best to turn things around, and now she's left trying to console her daughter Jordyn, who also just recently lost her grandpa.

"She had my dad, and he passed away. She had her dad and he passed away. So you've left a 12-year-old girl without a dad because you didn't watch him," Ashley said.

She believes if jail staff had kept a closer watch on Richard, he might not have died. Now she and others are calling for sweeping changes at the jail in hopes no other family loses a loved one.

"I'd hope they'd learn for each and every person and just change something," said Ashley.

Earlier in July, county executive Frank White, Jr., who is responsible for jail oversight, told county legislators he is working every day to make the jail as safe as possible.