Livingston Parish inmate denied necessary medical device, family says

Pictures and videos are the things Richard Abshire’s family is holding on to. “It should not have taken place; none of that suffering that he went through,” said Kaysi Abshire, Richard’s daughter. “My daughter, that was her best friend. He was her best friend,” said Taylor Abshire, who is also Richard’s daughter. Richard Abshire’s daughters look at pictures of him before he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2019. Part of his treatment was wearing an Optune device. “He was supposed to wear it 13 to 18 hours a day. I can say that he probably wore it longer than that unless he was sweating or showering. He slept in it, the device never left his head, and he truly believed it was keeping him alive,” Kaysi said. Richard Abshire was arrested last July. The sheriff’s department said he was charged with felony domestic battery with serious bodily injury and drug charges. He did not initially have his Optune device when he was arrested. His family said they eventually were able to get the device to jail staff, but the family claims it was never given to Richard and his brain tumor returned. “We are looking for justice,” said Andrew Bizer, the attorney representing the family in their civil suit against Livingston Parish. Bizer said Richard’s medical records show that the Optune device was essential for his treatment. “The medical records show the doctor from the jail spoke directly to Mr. Abshire’s oncologist and took notes that the Optune device was necessary to keep the tumor at bay, and he had never got his device,” said Bizer. According to the lawsuit, the family said they made calls asking if the device was being used. Their records show that they were told that the treatment would not be provided because the staff nurse was pregnant and could not be around the device. They were also told other staff did not know how to use it. “He was suffering for months. You could just hear his voice,” said Taylor. Records show that Richard fell in jail and was admitted to Tulane Hospital in New Orleans, where he later died on November 28, 2021. His death certificate listed brain cancer as a contributing factor. WDSU Investigates tried to speak with Livington Parish Sheriff Jason Ard. However, he would not answer any questions directly regarding the case. Chris Moody, the parish attorney, did answer some questions regarding the case and said he denies the allegations brought forth by Richard’s family and promised an aggressive defense. Just recently, he filed a court motion to dismiss the lawsuit. WDSU Investigates asked Moody why Abshire was not given the device his doctors deemed necessary. “As I mentioned to you before we started, I can’t comment on the specifics of the case,” said Moody. “I’m here to tell you in general, the inmates’ medical needs were met in a more than adequate way.” Moody confirmed to WDSU that medical personnel is at the facility on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis. Moody would not comment on whether or not the staff is trained to use the Optune device Richard needed. He also would not confirm any policies regarding specific treatment instructions provided by physicians for inmates. Richard’s family continues to wait for answers. “I felt horrible because I felt that if I could have gotten him out. If we could have gotten him out, he would still be here today,” said Kaysi.

Pictures and videos are the things Richard Abshire’s family is holding on to.

“It should not have taken place; none of that suffering that he went through,” said Kaysi Abshire, Richard’s daughter.

“My daughter, that was her best friend. He was her best friend,” said Taylor Abshire, who is also Richard’s daughter.

Richard Abshire’s daughters look at pictures of him before he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2019. Part of his treatment was wearing an Optune device.

“He was supposed to wear it 13 to 18 hours a day. I can say that he probably wore it longer than that unless he was sweating or showering. He slept in it, the device never left his head, and he truly believed it was keeping him alive,” Kaysi said.

Richard Abshire was arrested last July. The sheriff’s department said he was charged with felony domestic battery with serious bodily injury and drug charges.

He did not initially have his Optune device when he was arrested. His family said they eventually were able to get the device to jail staff, but the family claims it was never given to Richard and his brain tumor returned.

“We are looking for justice,” said Andrew Bizer, the attorney representing the family in their civil suit against Livingston Parish.

Bizer said Richard’s medical records show that the Optune device was essential for his treatment.

“The medical records show the doctor from the jail spoke directly to Mr. Abshire’s oncologist and took notes that the Optune device was necessary to keep the tumor at bay, and he had never got his device,” said Bizer.

According to the lawsuit, the family said they made calls asking if the device was being used.

Their records show that they were told that the treatment would not be provided because the staff nurse was pregnant and could not be around the device. They were also told other staff did not know how to use it.

“He was suffering for months. You could just hear his voice,” said Taylor.

Records show that Richard fell in jail and was admitted to Tulane Hospital in New Orleans, where he later died on November 28, 2021.

His death certificate listed brain cancer as a contributing factor.

WDSU Investigates tried to speak with Livington Parish Sheriff Jason Ard. However, he would not answer any questions directly regarding the case.

Chris Moody, the parish attorney, did answer some questions regarding the case and said he denies the allegations brought forth by Richard’s family and promised an aggressive defense.

Just recently, he filed a court motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

WDSU Investigates asked Moody why Abshire was not given the device his doctors deemed necessary.

“As I mentioned to you before we started, I can’t comment on the specifics of the case,” said Moody. “I’m here to tell you in general, the inmates’ medical needs were met in a more than adequate way.”

Moody confirmed to WDSU that medical personnel is at the facility on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis.

Moody would not comment on whether or not the staff is trained to use the Optune device Richard needed. He also would not confirm any policies regarding specific treatment instructions provided by physicians for inmates.

Richard’s family continues to wait for answers.

“I felt horrible because I felt that if I could have gotten him out. If we could have gotten him out, he would still be here today,” said Kaysi.

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