Lawsuit Claims Jail Staff Let Inmate Die Slowly, Painfully

After 16 days in jail, the inmate was 50 pounds lighter, naked, and not breathing
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2015 2:54 PM CDT
Lawsuit Claims Jail Staff Let Inmate Die Slowly, Painfully
The Macomb County Jail is being sued after an inmate died from acute drug withdrawals while serving a 30-day sentence.   (AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Mandi Wright)

In June 2014, a 32-year-old man was sentenced to 30 days in jail in lieu of a $772 fine for failing to show up for a court date, NBC News reports. Sixteen days later, David Stojcevski was dead. Stojcevski's brother filed a lawsuit against the Macomb County Jail near Detroit in March, the contents of which were made public this week. According to the Detroit Free Press, the lawsuit claims Stojcevski was a drug addict admitted to jail with prescriptions for Xanax, Klonopin, and oxycodone to treat his withdrawals. The lawsuit states Stojcevski was marked as having completed his detox after four days in jail; his symptoms started two days later, the Washington Post reports. Jail staff allegedly spent the next 10 days watching Stojcevski die slowly and painfully.

The lawsuit claims as Stojcevski's symptoms worsened, he lost 50 pounds—more than a quarter of his body weight—while experiencing hallucinations and convulsions, the Post reports. It states a medical team examined Stojcevski at one point and determined he was fine. According to the Free Press, he was allegedly moved naked to a mental-health cell, where he was monitored by video surveillance 24 hours a day under lights that never turned off. At no point, the lawsuit claims, did staff listen to his pleas for help or check the state's records to verify the prescriptions they refused to provide him. Stojcevski was finally rushed to the hospital when staff found him on the floor of his cell struggling to breathe. He died soon after. The lawsuit, which the county says "lacks legal merit," is seeking more than $75,000 in damages, NBC reports. (More jail stories.)

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