Woman Claims Jail Allowed Brother to Die in Cell

By JOCELYN RARDIN

(CN) – A Portsmouth, Virginia woman claims in court that jailers ignored the severity of her brother’s breathing problems, allowing him to die in his jail cell.

Shannon Crane, 36, had been in jail since November 2013 on charges that he tried to hire a hit man to kill both his girlfriend’s husband and his niece’s boyfriend.

He was arrested after meeting with an undercover police officer who he thought was a hit man.

In a complaint filed in the Portsmouth City Circuit Court, Amy Murray, Crane’s sister, says that after initially being held at the Petersburg City Jail, her brother was transferred to the Riverside Regional Jail operated by defendant Correct Care Solutions.

As recounted in court documents, Crane underwent a health assessment prior to his transfer and received a follow-up physical when he arrived at Riverside.

At the time, Crane had no prior history of heart problems or hypertension, and no developing problem was noted at the time.

Murray says that on Feb. 7, 2015, her brother complained to a corrections officers that he was having breathing  problems. He was sent to the jail’s medical department, where he was given albuterol and oxygen therapy.

But the medical staff “never conducted any further evaluation or assessment of Crane, let alone take his vitals again, and did not care for or treat Crane again,” Murray says.

Two days later, on Feb. 9. 2013, Crane was found unresponsive in his cell. Emergency medical responders pronounced him dead at 4:53 a.m.

Murray says he died of hypertensive cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle that can cause arrhythmia and heart attack.

Murray is seeking $5 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages from Correct Care Solutions and the jail’s medical staff.

Representatives of the defendants could not immediately be reached for comment.