PHOENIX (CN) – A man died in one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jails from lack of medical treatment, his mother claimed in court Wednesday – the day after a federal judge ordered that Arpaio’s jails must remain under court supervision.
Guadalupe M. Torres sued Arpaio, Maricopa County and a host of jailers and medical staff in Maricopa County Court, for the Oct. 6, 2013 death of her son, Felix Martinez Torres Jr. He died in jail six days after he was arrested, his mom says.
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that Arpaio’s jails must remain under court supervision to ensure that pretrial detainees have access to medical care.
Mesa police officers stopped Felix Martinez on Sept. 30, 2013 as he rode his bicycle, and arrested him on two outstanding warrants. At a medical screening in jail, he “reported that he had a history of ulcers and took Prilosec daily. He told the county that his last dose of Prilosec was taken the previous day,” his mother says in the lawsuit.
On Oct. 3, Torres was treated for “hernia pain” by being injected with a 60-milligram dose of Toradol, which “is contraindicated in persons, such as Felix, who have a history of ulcers and gastrointestinal issues,” according to the complaint.
“Even in persons who do not have a history of ulcers and gastrointestinal issues, the recommended starting dose of Toradol is 10 milligrams,” his mother claims.
Still in pain, Torres was transferred to the Maricopa Medical Center Emergency Department, where he was treated for a hernia and discharged with instructions to return if he suffered from abdominal pain, heartburn, or nausea.
That night he complained of all three symptoms, but medical staff ordered him back to his cell, the lawsuit states. He was given a handout on “Common Sense Indigestion or Minor Heartburn,” Tums, and acetaminophen.
On Oct. 5 Torres complained of vomiting, and was told to submit a “health needs request” if he had the same symptoms in 24 hours, after taking more Tums and acetaminophen.
“After Felix’s return to his cell, Felix was still experiencing a substantial amount of pain, prompting him to extend his hands outside of his cell and to intermittently strike it against the cell door trying to gain the attention” of two detention officers, his mother claims. His requests for medical attention went unanswered.
Torres collapsed in his cell that afternoon, and it took at least seven minutes before two detention officers took him to the medical clinic. He was returned to his cell again.
Just after midnight, Torres was found “sitting on the toilet in a slumped over position, leaning on a wall,” his mother says. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead 20 minutes after arrival.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement after Torres’s death, claiming no suspicious circumstances were at play in his death.
A Maricopa Court Medical Examiner said in January that foul play was not a factor in his death.
Guadalupe Torres seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations and wrongful death.
She is represented by Michael Manning and Larry Wulkan with Stinson Leonard Street.
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