Inmates in jails have the right to expect that they will be cared for like human beings. This includes being able to get medical assistance when there is something life-threatening going on. Unfortunately, inmates don’t always get the help they need when they need it.
A lawsuit that was filed against New Mexico jailers alleges that they allowed an inmate who was locked up for a DWI bleed to death while under their care. According to the legal complaint, the man was coughing up blood when other inmates began banging on the door and smearing the blood on the window to alert the jailers that something was seriously wrong. The jailers ignored those pleas for help and left the man without any medical care.
The man’s family attorney notes that the jail is trying to make it seem like the man died of a terminal illness. This isn’t the case. The man died of a blood vessel in his stomach bursting, which accounts for the blood he was coughing up.
Prior to his death, the man was back and forth to the medical unit with complaints of severe abdominal pain, vomiting blood, and defecating blood. His pulse was a very rapid 144 beats-per-minute, and he was noted to be pale and yellow. Still, he was sent back to his pod.
At 4:21 on the morning of his death, the jailer over the pod saw him on the floor with another inmate cradling his head. She left the area and didn’t do anything. At 4:58, she returned and felt for a pulse and reportedly didn’t find one. At 5:07, the state police were alerted to the death. The plot thickens here, however. At 5:26, medical staff arrived and found a pulse. They finally called 911, but it was too late for the man. He ultimately succumbed to the massive blood loss.
Source: The Washington Post, “Lawsuit alleges New Mexico jailers let inmate awaiting DWI court date bleed to death,” Kyle Swenson, July 12, 2017