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Inmate Jailed for Traffic Ticket Dies After Being Denied Prescription Medicine

Lawsuit claims employees knew David Stojcevski was taking the medication, but refused to provide it and instead watched him suffer from "excruciating" withdrawal symptoms leading to his death.

by VICE News
Sep 25 2015, 5:36pm

Screenshot via WDIV

The brother of a man who died while in jail for failing to pay a traffic ticket claims jailers and medical staff watched the man suffer through "excruciating" withdrawals after denying him access to his prescription medicines.

David Stojcevski, 32, was originally set to serve a 30-day sentence in Macomb County Jail in in Mt. Clemens, Michigan after getting a traffic ticket for careless driving and then failing to show up in court, according to Detroit's local channel 4 TV station WDIV, which broke the story. But just 16 days after Stojcevski was booked into the jail in June 2014, he was taken to a local hospital, 50 pounds lighter than when he entered. He died there 90 minutes later. 

A lawsuit filed by the man's brother, Vladimir Stojcevski, claims the cause of death, as listed on his death certificate, was "acute withdrawal from chronic benzodiazepine, methadone and opiate medications."

An autopsy report mentions the man also showed symptoms of dehydration and seizure or seizure-like activity, according to the lawsuit filed in a Detroit District Court in March.

In the months prior to his incarceration, Stojcevski had reportedly been prescribed three medications to treat his withdrawal from a Heroin addiction: Xanax and Klonopin for anxiety and oxycodone for pain relief.

The lawsuit, which seeks $75,000 in damages, claims that neglect from some three dozen employees at the prison and its contracted medical healthcare agency, Correct Care Solution, contributed to the man's death.

One of the defendants named in the suit allegedly knew Stojcevski was taking Xanax and oxycodone before he was incarcerated, the suit claims. The prisoner was reportedly recommended for a medical detox unit after he was booked, but instead was placed in a mental health cell after hallucinating and showing other symptoms. There, employees watched the man as he went through severe withdrawal symptoms, including "twitching on the floor." But they cleared him medically and did not provide him any prescription medication while he was in jail, the suit alleged.

The lawsuit also claims that on June 18, a nurse supervisor performed an assessment and became aware the prisoner was taking Klonopin at home for anxiety, but did not order more medication for the man and ignored his pleas for medical care.

At the prison's mental health facility, Stojcevski was monitored round the clock by surveillance cameras. The release of the disturbing footage has brought renewed attention to the case.

Jail authorities found Stojcevski on the floor of his cell on June 27. He was reportedly struggling to breathe and when attempts to revive him failed, he was transported to the hospital where he died later.

"The various defendants with malice, recklessness and callous indifference failed to provide or obtain care and treatment necessary to save David's life," the lawsuit said.

Sheriff Anthony Wickersham told the Detroit Free Press he would not comment on the case because it involves pending litigation. County Corporation Counsel John Schapka said that "knowing the facts and circumstances of the case, I'm confident the county will prevail."