Luzerne County Manager: $3 million settlement approved in Shaheen Mackey lawsuit

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WILKES-BARRE LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Luzerne County officials have agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement with the estate of a man who died at the Luzerne County Prison in 2018.

41-year old Shaheen Mackey was taken to the prison for violating a protection from abuse order. Several hours later he was taken to the hospital, where he died two days later.

Mackey died in June of 2018 after an incident at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.

The county agreed to a $3 million dollar settlement with Mackey’s estate, which ends civil litigation against the county, but the attorney for Mackey’s family tells Eyewitness News that he wants the district attorney to review the case again for possible criminal charges.

Tati Mackey, his daughter, reacted to the death of her father in June of 2018. She and her family wanted to know what happened.

“I can’t talk,” said Tati Mackey.

“First it was a heart attack, then it was a seizure and overdose. It’s too many different stories,” said Tati Mackey.

Mackey was taken to the Luzerne County Prison, where he remained for about five hours. At the time, prison officials say that officers were called to Mackey’s cell block because of a report that he was acting aggressively and that officers were forced to refrain him.

During the incident Mackey required medical attention and officers performed CPR and called 911. He was transported to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital where he was placed on life support and died two days later.

Mackey’s family filed a lawsuit saying that the prison officials did not properly document his medical condition and that the county should have treated the situation as a medical emergency instead of using physical force.

County council voted unanimously to approve the $3 million dollar settlement.

“Well first of all we are gratified we are very glad that county council had the opportunity and took the opportunity to view the video of Mr. Mackey’s death. This was not just an unfortunate death, this was a death at the hands of multiple corrections officers,” said Attorney Barry Dyller who represents the Mackey family.

The Luzerne County District Attorney investigated the incident and determined there was no criminal wrongdoing on the part of those correctional officers, but Attorney Dyller tells Eyewitness News:

“I urge the district attorney to reconsider and view that video again and take a fresh look especially when we consider what’s happening across the country.”

The District Attorney tells Eyewitness News:

“The county’s decision to settle the civil case does not change or affect our decision in the criminal investigation. Our detectives and lawyers spent over a hundred man hours on that investigation dissecting statements, reports and video. We stand by our previous decision, the reason for which were fairly meticulously explained in our press release at the time.”

County manager David Pedri released a statement on the county’s civil lawsuit settlement.

“We are pleased that the proposed settlement agreement with the estate of Shaheen Mackey was approved this evening by County Council.  However, the settlement still needs to be approved by The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the litigation will still be continuing against other defendants. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this time,” said Pedri.

A forensic pathologist performed an autopsy on Mackey and determined that he died from natural causes because of underlying health conditions, namely coronary artery disease, and the sudden violent outburst led to heart failure.

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