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Deeds may sue over son’s death

(AP) State Sen. Creigh Deeds may sue a local community services board over treatment his son received shortly before attacking the lawmaker, then killing himself last year.

Deeds’ lawyer, Monica Mroz of Roanoke, said Thursday that Deeds has filed a notice of intent to sue to four local governments that are served by Rockbridge Area Community Services Board as well as the board itself.

Mroz said the senator has not yet decided whether to sue.

“Senator Deeds provided these notices as part of his continued quest to understand what happened to his son,” Mroz said in a statement.

Deeds’ son stabbed his father then shot himself at their Bath County home last November. The attack occurred hours after Gus Deeds was released from an emergency custody order because a staffer at the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board was unable to find an open psychiatric bed in the six hours then allotted under state law.

A report by the state inspector general released in March found no evidence a staffer at the board tried to contact two facilities that had room to admit Gus Deeds. The staffer told investigators he contacted 10 facilities, but investigators only found evidence that seven were contacted.

In the notices sent to local governments, Deeds said the “negligence and gross negligence” of employees at Rockbridge Area Community Services Board are to blame for what happened. The director of the Rockbridge board did not immediately return a request for comment.

Sen. Deeds, whose face bares several scares from the attack, made mental health reform his top priority during this year’s legislative session. Lawmakers passed and Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law new rules that would prevent release of the mentally ill under emergency custody due to a lack of bed space.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported the notices, which were delivered to Rockbridge and Bath counties, and the cities of Lexington and Buena Vista.

– ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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