Arthur Henderson

The family of a former Lehi officer involved in a 2006 shooting, who later hanged himself in his cell, has sued the Salt Lake County Metro Jail alleging jail officials failed to prevent the suicide.

The lawsuit — filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court by family members of Arthur Henderson — claims jail officials had known for months that Henderson was suicidal when a single jail guard walked away from his post April 19, 2006, allowing Henderson to shred his bed sheet and hang himself.

The suit contends that even on the day Henderson was booked into the jail on Jan. 28, 2006, he was deemed "at high risk of self harm" by a jail mental health official. Henderson told the official "there is a 60 percent chance I'll be dead in the morning."

In the following weeks, Henderson was seen pounding his head against things and had tried several times to kill himself by choking himself with plastic lunch bags and cutting himself, the suit says. Up until his death, Henderson had repeatedly indicated he was suicidal and was kept in solitary confinement due to the fact that he was a law enforcement officer.

In a written note, Henderson stated he "was now in the deepest depression of (his) life," and later told a jail nurse he was "past suicide, beyond wanting to die," the suit says.

The suit states that on April 19, jail surveillance video showed that there was only one guard on duty in the cell block and that the guard stood up and left his post "for an unreasonable amount of time," allowing Henderson to hang himself.

The family claims the jail was negligent, failed to adequately train its staff and violated Henderson's constitutional rights. They are seeking damages as well as expenses for attorney's fees.

Alicia Cook of the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office said the county does not comment on pending suits.

Henderson was arrested after pursuing his estranged wife and her boyfriend in a high-speed chase down a Lehi street while shooting at them. After ramming the couple's car, Henderson shot Craig Trimble twice — once in the leg and once in the stomach — before turning his gun on Lehi officers. Officers took Henderson down with shots to the knee and foot.

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