Family Seeks Answers On What Happened To 20-Year-Old At The Jail That Left Him Brain Dead

  • Sunday, May 12, 2024
Christopher Ayala
Christopher Ayala

A local family said they have not been given any answers on how 20-year-old Christopher Ayala became near death less than 24 hours after being taken to the Hamilton County Jail.

The family is also seeking answers on why charges against him were abruptly dismissed in court the day after he was taken from the jail to Erlanger Hospital.

Attorney Neal Pinkston, who represents the Ayala family, said Christopher Ayala is considered brain dead and is not expected to live long.

Attorney Pinkston has written letters to District Attorney Coty Wamp and Sheriff Austin Garrett seeking answers.

The letter to DA Wamp says:

"I represent the family of Christopher Ayala. On April 27, 2024, Christopher Ayala was arrested by HCSO Deputy Cody Widdows #3226 for Improper Use of the 911 system.

Less than 24 hours after his arrest, while in custody at the Hamilton County Jail and Detention Center, Ayala was transported to Erlanger Hospital.

The Ayala family has never been told what happened to Christopher while in HCSO custody. His doctors have informed the family that he is brain dead and does not have long to live.

While he was only arrested on April 27, 2024, Christopher’s case appeared in Hamilton County General Sessions Court on April 29, 2024, under Case No: 1945085. The case was then dismissed by your office. The Ayala family was never informed why Christopher’s case suddenly appeared on the docket or why it was abruptly dismissed.

On behalf of the family, we would like to be informed why his case was handled in such an odd procedural fashion.

More importantly, we ask that an independent law enforcement agency, other than HCSO, be tasked by you to investigate the arrest, detention, and hospitalization of Christopher Ayala. I look forward to your timely response to my correspondence.

Letter to Sheriff Garrett:

I represent the family of Christopher Ayala. HCSO Deputy Cody Widdows, Badge #3226 arrested Christopher Ayala (DOB: 5/6/2001) for Improper Use of the 911 emergency system. While in custody at the Hamilton County Jail and Detention Center, something happened to Christopher that required his transport to Erlanger Hospital. His family was never notified by your department that he had suffered any medical episode or that he needed immediate medical attention. After being notified by Erlanger management that Christopher was a patient there, Christopher’s father called the Hamilton County Jail and Detention Center on several occasions trying to obtain vital information as to what happened to his son. One HCSO employee said Christopher had never been booked into the jail and had no idea of his whereabouts. At present, Christopher has been declared brain dead and does not appear to have long to live. I am requesting that your department preserve the following potential evidence, to include but not limited to, the following:

1. Any and all body cam and dash cam footage of all officer(s) on scene at the arrest of Christopher Ayala and his subsequent transport to the Hamilton County Jail and Detention Center;

2. Any and all documents related to the arrest and detention of Christopher Ayala into the Hamilton County Jail and Detention Center;

3. A detailed list of the names and badge numbers of all HCSO Officers and HCSO civilian employees who interacted with Christopher Ayala from the time of his arrest until his hospitalization;

4. Any and all documents related to the time of Christopher Ayala’s arrest, time of his presentation to the Hamilton County Jail, time HCSO learned he required immediate medical attention, time EMS was requested to transport Christopher to Erlanger Hospital, and time Christopher left the Hamilton County Jail and Detention Center;

5. Any and all videos from the Hamilton County Jail and Detention Center depicting Christopher Ayala’s time in booking and custody until his release to be transported to Erlanger Hospital.

From personal experience, I know that in the past HCSO has suffered catastrophic data loss of videos and other materials. Such catastrophic data loss is subject of a current federal lawsuit pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. A federal magistrate as well as a United States District Court Judge have commented in various orders about the catastrophic data loss. I sincerely hope you take this preservation request seriously and that it is treated with due respect and handled by those with the most competence to prevent any data loss.

In another odd twist, Christopher’s case was docketed in the Hamilton County General Sessions Court under Case No: 1945085 less than forty-eight (48) hours after his arrest and then dismissed by the Hamilton County District Attorney General’s Office. As a result, I am requesting your department preserve any communications via text, phone calls, in person communications, or email correspondence with the District Attorney General’s Office, District Attorney General, Assistant District Attorney Generals or other DA’s employees about setting this case on the docket and its subsequent dismissal. I look forward to your prompt response to my correspondence. In addition to your office, I will also be sending copies of this correspondence to the Hamilton County Attorney’s Office as well as Hamilton County Commission Chairman Jeff Eversole.

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