When a person is arrested, he or she loses the ability to make certain decisions, such as deciding whether medical treatment is needed. As such, police departments in Pennsylvania have certain policies in place to ensure that those in police custody receive the medical treatment that they need. The violation of such a policy is the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit recently filed against a police department and others.
The lawsuit involves the death of a 31-year-old man who was taken into police custody in Dec. 2019. Family members claim that police officers were aware that the man had ingested cocaine. However, they took him to a booking center instead of seeking medical attention. The man reportedly went into cardiac arrest soon after being placed in a cell. The family claims that only then did he receive medical treatment, but he died three days later. The coroner report indicates that the man’s cause of death was fentanyl and cocaine toxicity.
Police officers claim that they did not know that the man ingested drugs, arguing that they asked him several times if he had, but he said no. However, officer reports indicate that man had something in his mouth and that he had a white substance on his mouth. Officers also claim that they discovered illegal drugs in his vehicle and on his person. Though officers say the man claimed to have eaten white candy, no such candy was found in the vehicle and at least two charges filed against the man indicated that police believed that he had ingested drugs.
Unfortunately, the death of the Pennsylvania man has left a 6-year-old girl without her father. As such, the wrongful death lawsuit was filed on her behalf and seeks $35 million. While a successfully presented lawsuit will not lessen the grief that surviving family members experience in a case such as this, it can ensure that their financial needs are met while they cope with the emotional fallout of their loss. Additionally, taking legal action as this family has done could result in procedural changes that will prevent other families from suffering similarly.