Wrongful death lawsuit filed in death of Mobile boy with special needs

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Mobile County Circuit Court Tuesday in the death of 8-year-old LeBrawn Rankin. LeBrawn died on April 6, 2018 at the Sandpiper apartments in West Mobile where he lived with his mother, according to the lawsuit. LeBrawn was mentally disabled and had cerebral palsy, according to lawyers filing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names LeBrawn’s mother, the State of Alabama Department of Human Resources, DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner, and unidentified Mobile County DHR caseworkers as defendants. The lawsuit alleges DHR received multiple complaints of prior abuse and neglect and did not act to protect LeBrawn.

LeBrawn attended Augusta Evans School, according to lawyers. The lawsuit claims school officials reported to DHR on multiple occasions with concerns LeBrawn was being abused and neglected.

“Some of the reports made by school officials to DHR included LeBrawn having suffered from severe dehydration, bedsores, poor hygiene and his diapers were not being changed for extended periods of time,” the lawsuit says.

In November 2018 Mobile Police said LeBrawn died of natural causes and closed the case without filing charges. Several months prior in August 2018 police sent out a press release saying the boy’s death was a homicide, but later retracted that information saying it was sent out in error.

Birmingham attorneys Tommy James of Tommy James Law, Jeremy Knowles of Morris Haynes, Attorneys at Law and Mobile attorney Brad Kittrell filed the lawsuit on behalf of LeBrawn. James is on the state Board of Directors of VOCAL, Victims of Crime and Leniency, an advocacy group that focuses on reducing crime and improving the rights of crime victims.

“LeBrawn should never have been allowed to stay in that apartment. It is incomprehensible that he was left there when DHR knew he was being so badly neglected,” said James. “This innocent child is dead because the people at DHR did not do their jobs and it is appalling this was allowed to happen.”

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