Tarrant sheriff addresses ‘misinformation’ about inmate with developmental disability

The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office addressed what it called “misinformation” about a former inmate with a developmental disability in a press release on Monday.

Family and advocates for Kai’Yere Campbell said the 21-year-old had the mental capacity of a child and needed specialized care. Campbell had been in the Tarrant County jail since December on assault charges, but was transferred to a state supported living center on Thursday, the press release said.

Campbell’s situation was brought to the public’s attention when advocates urged for his release at a Commissioners Court session in May. They and Campbell’s mother, Shantel Taylor, said he had lost a concerning amount of weight, refused to put on clothes, had self-inflicted sores on his body and smeared excrement on the walls of his cell due to his inability to understand his situation.

The Sheriff’s Office challenged those statements in Monday’s press release.

Campbell did lose weight at the beginning of his incarceration in the county jail because he refused to eat, the statement said.

“Once it was determined that Mr. Campbell would only eat chicken sandwiches, jail employees purchased special chicken patties to make sandwiches that he consumed at each meal time,” the statement said. “Once he began eating again, he regained weight.”

The statement said no sores were ever observed on Campbell’s body and that he did not smear excrement on the walls of his cell.

“However, Mr. Campbell was responsible for throwing his food on the floor and smearing against the walls,” the statement said. “Each time this happened, sometimes up to several times a day, the cell was always promptly cleaned and sanitized.”

The statement also said that Sheriff Bill Waybourn made multiple personal visits to Campbell each week and that jail staff bought him coloring books with their own money “to keep him occupied.”

“No other inmate received this level of attention or special treatment,” the statement said.

Taylor declined to comment. A representative of the advocacy group United Fort Worth who previously spoke to the Star-Telegram and the county commissioners about Campbell’s case also declined to comment.

The Star-Telegram made several attempts to get information about Campbell from the Sheriff’s Office when reporting on his case in May.

When asked why Campbell had not been transferred to a mental health facility per a court order from February, spokesperson Robbie Hoy replied, “There has to be a facility available that will take him and as of right now, there isn’t one.”

When asked for clarification on the facility to which Campbell should have been sent, Hoy blamed the delay in the transfer on the District Attorney’s Office and court system, saying, “You will have to reach out to them to find out why the process has not moved forward.”

Hoy did not respond to further attempts at clarification.

A spokesperson for the DA’s Office said it was unable to proceed until Campbell received the treatment mandated by the court order.

Hoy did not respond to an email and text messages sent on Monday seeking clarification as to why the information in the press release was not provided when the Star-Telegram initially inquired about Campbell’s case.

Campbell’s mother and advocates held throughout his time in the county jail that he did not need to be moved to a mental health facility to have his competency restored in order to face the charges against him, contending that such restoration would have been impossible.

While Campbell does suffer from schizophrenia, according to Taylor, his developmental disability makes it impossible for him to understand the charges against him. She and others said he needed to be in a state-supported living center to receive the round-the-clock care his condition requires.

Taylor denied the Star-Telegram’s request to view documentation of Campbell’s developmental disability.

Campbell was arrested in December after hitting an elderly nurse at the group home where he was staying during a manic episode. The nurse reportedly called 911 to get him help and never wanted him to be arrested.