SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials killed a prisoner by refusing him medical treatment for a staph infection for 54 days, his mother says. More than 90 people have died in immigration jails since 2003 and poor or nonexistent medical care “contributed to 30 of those deaths,” according to the federal complaint.
Dora Baires says her HIV-positive son was held for 54 days at the Lerdo Jail in Kern County, where he was denied necessary medications and developed a foot infection. She says his jailers gave him only Motrin for the infection, which he described in a letter as so painful that it “makes me cry like a little boy.”
In the letter, Baires wrote that the prison doctor concluded that the infection was “from the other disease that I have, that one you know, and because they are not giving me the treatment.”
The infection spread “throughout Baires’ entire body,” says his mom, who blamed his death on immigration officials’ denial of his HIV medications.
Juan Carlos Baires’ “only offense was that he was an undocumented alien,” his mother says.
Another HIV-positive inmate at the Lerdo jail, Teofilo Miranda, says he too was denied his medication, and “lives with the memory of agonizing physical suffering and a near-death experience while incarcerated by ICE,” according to the complaint.
Miranda says that when he told a Lerdo infirmary nurse that he had HIV and needed his medications, “the nurse asked him what he meant and told him she did not know what HIV was.”
Miranda says guards yelled at him when he tried to help Baires, who had trouble walking due to his “swollen and yellow” foot. He says ICE officers had been “laughing and joking around” while doctors were trying to resuscitate Baires just before he died.
Baires and Miranda seek punitive damages for medical indifference, negligence and malpractice, and constitutional violations.
They are represented by Jayne Fleming and James Wood with Reed Smith.