Just 17 days into a 30-day jail sentence for an unpaid traffic ticket, David Stojcevski, 32, died naked and twitching on the floor of his cell in Macomb County, Michigan, outside of Detroit, reports Kevin Dietz’ for Detroit’s Local 4.
Six days into that sentence, Stojcevski had been put into a mental-health cell, where he was under constant video surveillance and suicide watch.
The video shows, however, that, for the last two days of his life, Stojcevski didn’t get off the ground.
Stojcevski’s brother has now filed a lawsuit targeting Macomb County, the sheriff, employees of the jail, and the jail’s medical contractor, The Detroit News reports. The suit seeks monetary compensation, court costs, attorneys’ fees, punitive damages, and policy changes to prevent similar cases in the future, according to the paper.
Macomb County attorney John Schapka told The Detroit News that he’s confident that the county defence would prevail.
Stojcevski died as a result of “acute withdrawal from medication,” according to his death certificate as reported by Dietz. He was prescribed methadone, Xanax, Klonopin, and oxycodone for his mental health and his drug addictions. Ten days into his sentence, Stojcevski was allegedly told that his “medication has not been ordered at this time,” according to the suit, as reported by CBS Local Detroit.
During his withdrawal, Stojcevski reportedly lost 50 pounds, hallucinated, and suffered seizures. Multiple experts told Dietz these behaviours are clear signs of withdrawal.
Guards in the mental health unit are required to monitor surveillance video and take notes on prisoners’ conditions every 15 minutes, according to Dietz. As such, Stojcevski should have been checked on 96 times a day. It’s not clear whether guards were watching, but when they finally do enter his cell, Stojcevski had already stopped breathing.
Though Stojcevski died in June of 2014, the lawsuit and video obtained by Detroit Local 4 have brought widespread attention to the case.
Prisoners in the unit aren’t given clothes for their own protection, according to Dietz.
Conditions of various levels of police custody, including transport and jail, have come under scrutiny in recent months due to high-profile coverage of the death of Freddie Grey in April and Sandra Bland in July.
Stojcevski’s family hopes that the release of the disturbing footage of his conditions and death will help prevent future cases like his.
The video is below.
Warning: Some readers may find it disturbing.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.