EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- It’s been a two year quest for answers for Gertie and William Carroll. Their son Lovely Jefferson, a once prominent East St. Louis boxer, was found dead in his room at the Chester Mental Health Center in Chester, Illinois in 2018.
“There’s really no words when you find out a facility you put your faith in, to help a person dealing with mental illness, is the one that causes his demise,” said Gertie Carroll.
News 4 reported two years ago the facility failed to notify the Carroll’s about Jefferson’s death.
His family said they didn’t find out about his death until two days after he died. His body was sent to a funeral home in Sparta.
“I had to give her $700 before she would let the funeral home move my child’s body,” she said.
The initial autopsy report News 4 obtained reveals Jefferson’s death was sudden and of natural causes related to an individual with Schizoaffective disorder.
But that finding is now being refuted by a civil lawsuit filed by Jefferson’s family against the facility.
“They took something that never can be given back and will be carried for the rest of your life,” said William Carroll.
The Carroll’s attorney alleges after their investigation an employee used excessive force toward Jefferson.
Documents reveal on August 16, 2018, the employee knew Jefferson suffered from anger issues. He allegedly did not follow protocols when entering Jefferson’s room.
The suit alleges because these rules weren’t followed Jefferson became agitated and the employee used “unreasonable force” that led to his death.
“Several others helped with the situation cleaning up what had happened and putting Lovely back to be like he passed away,” Carroll said.
News 4 tried reaching out to the facility. We’re awaiting a response.
The facility’s attorney filed a motion to try to get the case dismissed, arguing the facility is barred by sovereign immunity.
The state did tell News 4 in 2018 that laws prevent them from talking about specific cases.
But the Carrolls are hoping to take this case to trial so they can go on record with the facts.
“I would say we need justice and we’re not going to stop until we get justice,” Carroll said.