Friends, family, and supporters of David Stojcevski, a Michigan man who died in his jail cell after not receiving medical treatment, rallied Saturday in favor of more humane treatment of prisoners, as well as justice for their friend, the Guardian is reporting.
David Stojcevski, 32, died in a jail cell in Macomb County, Michigan, naked and convulsing on the floor, in 2014. He had been there for 17 days, during which time he lost 40-50 pounds. His family, according to a lawsuit filed this year, says that he was in a drug treatment facility for heroin and opiate addiction at the time of his arrest. His jailers denied him access to the medicines he was taking for withdrawal — methadone, Xanax, and benzodiazapene, and he died of acute withdrawal, according to the medical examiner’s report.
Friends and family of a Michigan man who died naked in a jail cell of drug withdrawal while serving a sentence… http://t.co/jiuNwydhMg
— Carmac (@TheCarmac) October 11, 2015
He had been jailed for failure to pay a traffic ticket.
Although Sjojcevski died in 2014, his case did not draw the attention of the national media until last week, when shocking jailhouse video footage of his final days was released. You can see edited footage of Stojcevski’s death below, beginning at 1:13.
Stojcevski’s plight began almost as soon as he was booked into the jail, says the lawsuit. Although a nurse on duty at the time noted that he was showing “obvious physical signs of drug abuse” and recommended he be placed in a detox unit instead of general population.
Seven days later, Stojcevski was transferred to the jail’s mental health unit, where he was monitored, via video surveillance, 24 hours a day. During the last tend days of his life, David was “hallucinating, talking to people who weren’t there,” and believed he had already died. Regardless, jail officials did nothing, according to the lawsuit.
The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office has responded to the lawsuit, in part, by insisting that Stojcevski was treated properly during his stay in jail. Johsn Schapka, the County’s legal counsel, insists that nothing in the video is particularly damning.
“We’ve dissected the video in a timeline down to a minute. Trust me, we don’t throw people in jail cells naked and don’t feed them.”
Schapka also notes that jailers in the mental health unit are instructed to have as little contact with mentally ill inmates as possible, to avoid “escalation.”
“The idea there is not to trigger escalation. We don’t escalate situations. That just leads to needless excess force claims, needless confrontations.”
Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham has demanded an apology from Stojcevski’s family for publishing the video.
On Saturday, Stojcevski’s friends and family, as well as other protesters, convened outside the Macomb County jail to call for justice for David, according to Michigan Radio.
Tabitha Matheney, whose boyfriend knew Stojcevski when they were children, was appalled by the video.
“I watched the video, it made me sick. Probably one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Brandon Baker believes that jailing a person over a traffic ticket is unjust.
“I don’t even think he should’ve been put in jail for a driving ticket. I mean, there’s other people who do way worse things that are out the next day.”
Terry Parrish, meanwhile, concedes that cuts to mental health and drug abuse treatment have led to drug-addicted and mentally ill inmates being crammed into jails, which seem to be the only place for them. Still, he says, there’s no excuse for Stojcevski’s treatment.
“There’s no process to hide behind. There’s right and wrong.”
The FBI is investigating Stojcevski’s death.
[Image courtesy of: Shutterstock / sakhorn]