An unpaid parking ticket proved fatal for Michigan resident David Stojcevski. A lawsuit alleges that Stojcevski was jailed after not paying a traffic ticket, and then died of drug withdrawal on the concrete floor of a cell at the Macomb County Jail because authorities intentionally withheld medication that could have saved his life.
“He should have had medical attention,” Dr. Frank McGeorge, an expert in custody death cases, told TV station WDIV. “People do not die from withdrawal all the time. They die from withdrawal when there is neglect associated with it.”
Stojcevski’s disturbing death was caught on video tape because he had been placed in a cell that was monitored around the clock. WDIV reported that a videotape shows a naked Stojcevski twitching and grasping for breath on the floor of his cell on June 27, 2014. The lawsuit filed by Stojcevski’s brother says the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department did nothing until it was too late.
Imprisoned on a $772 Fine
Stojcevski had been arrested on an unpaid $772 fine related to careless driving, the Detroit Free Pressreported. He was sentenced to 30 days because he allegedly could not afford to pay it.
To make matters worse, Stojcevski might not have needed to be in jail in the first place. The Free Pressreported that he should been released a week prior to his death because a court had placed him in a community corrections program.
Sheriff’s department employees and a private contractor, Correct Care Solutions, caused Stojcevski’s death by deliberately ignoring his needs, the lawsuit charges. The jail staff was apparently aware that Stojcevski was taking Xanax, Klonopin and oxycodone – both prescribed by a doctor – to help beat an addiction.
Stojcevski lost at least 50 pounds during the 16 days he was in jail.
Stojcevski’s brother, Vladimir, filed the lawsuit in US district court and is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
Donna Rockwell, a licensed clinical psychologist, said the video is “very hard to watch.”
“That could be your son or my son, and I am absolutely shocked to think that [this happened in] the United States of America, in an affluent suburb.”
Stojcevski is not the only person who died after serving questionable jail time on minor charges. Bronx resident Kalief Browder spent three years in solitary confinement at New York’s Rikers Island Jail without charges or a court hearing, The New York Times reported. Browder’s crime: He was accused of stealing a backpack.
Browder committed suicide by hanging himself at his parents’ home in the Bronx in June. He was never able to put his life together, even though he was eventually released.
Another man, Jamycheal Mitchell, was held in jail without bail for four months in Portsmouth, Virginia, The Guardian reported. Mitchell, who reportedly suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was found dead on the floor of his cell on August 28. Mitchell’s crime: He was accused of stealing a Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra snack cake all worth less than $5 from a 7-Eleven convenience store.