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Sheriff Harder Reacts Following Inmate Death Lawsuit

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Broome County Sheriff David Harder is speaking out about a lawsuit claiming his agency contributed to the death of an inmate in January.

The estate of Salladin Barton is suing Harder, Broome County, and others at the jail. The suit claims deputies subjected Barton to psychological abuse, racial slurs, and beatings, including one the day before he was found unresponsive in his cell. Harder says his agency's investigation, which has been turned over to the state's commission on correction, shows these allegations are untrue.

"It's a bunch of crap, which is basically what it boils down to. Ron Benjamin can't decide how he wants to sue us. Back in January he said it was very clear to him he told the news media that his client died of an overdose. After toxicology tests on four different samples on Mr. Barton came back negative now he has us beating him and starving him to death," said Harder.

Benjamin, who is the attorney for Barton's estate, says his belief Barton died of a drug overdose came from information from the coroner that Barton's organs were consistent with drug overdose. Harder says interviews with fellow inmates didn't support the theory that Barton was beaten. Benjamin says he has letters and witnesses confirming the beating. For now Barton's cause of death is inconclusive.