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ThatsNotWhatIRead

Investigating County Has No Investigation?

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Hello,

 

In Oregon, when a wrongful death occurs in a county jail, another county is required to investigate. When my sister died, there was a 1 month long investigation where no wrongdoing was found.

 

We contacted the county who performed the investigation (family and representatives of the estate of the deceased) and requested a copy of the investigation from the county.

 

Here is a transcript of the phone call:

 

[Introductions]

"What can I help with today?" -- Detective

"We would like a copy of [the investigation]." -- Estate

"Why do you need that?" -- Detective

"Because we'd like to know what happened [to my daughter]" -- Estate

"There's really no investigation to provide. Once I finished my work, I gave everything to [The County where The Death Occurred]" -- Detective

"So you have no investigative report, no witness statements, nothing at all?" -- Estate

"No, we don't keep information like that." --Detective

 

Now call me what you may... I've never committed a crime, so I'm somewhat ignorant of the processes, I've never had a not-so-cut-and-dry death in the family, so I'm not too familiar with the processes that take place, but I am fairly certain that when a detective is sent out to investigate a potential crime, they must document everything that they gathered through the course of that investigation: Evidence, Witness Statements, and the "conclusion" which describes why or why they do not suspect foul play... In addition, I believe it is the family's right to have a copy of that investigation once it is completed. Lastly, when another county is responsible for the investigation, it defeats the purpose of having an independent agency perform the investigation if everything is passed back to the originating county to make decisions like whether there was criminal wrongdoing, etc...

 

My question:

What Now?

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7 hours ago, ThatsNotWhatIRead said:

I am fairly certain that when a detective is sent out to investigate a potential crime, they must document everything that they gathered through the course of that investigation

 

"Must"?  That's a matter of local policy.  Substitute "should" for "must," and I would agree.  However, in an unusual circumstance such as you described, it sounds like the investigating agency did document everything and followed its policy to forward its file to the county where the death happened.  In the private sector, the entity conducting the investigation would almost certainly keep a copy of the file.  It may be different in the public sector.

 

 

7 hours ago, ThatsNotWhatIRead said:

I believe it is the family's right to have a copy of that investigation once it is completed.

 

A "family" is not a legally recognized entity that has any legal rights.  Determining whether any particular individual(s) have such a right would require a rather thorough review of the applicable state laws.

 

 

7 hours ago, ThatsNotWhatIRead said:

My question:

What Now?

 

I'm not really sure what this question means.  If you or someone else in your family is considering the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit, the only sensible thing to do would be to consult with a local attorney.

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Your basic premise is wrong.  You said, "when a wrongful death occurs in a county jail".  From the circumstance you described elsewhere, the county is entitled to conclude the death was from natural causes and was not a wrongful death.  The death was from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, according to your narrative.  Since that is most often a cause of natural death, the county undoubtedly did not conduct a criminal investigation to determine who killed your daughter.  What did the coroner and/or medical examiner determine was the manner and cause of death?

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RetiredinVA, In my State, if a death occurs in one county institution (a county jail, or other facility), the state will assign another county to investigate. The investigating county is different from the county where the death occurred. I just want to clear that up.

 

You are correct to assume a county does not have to investigate something they have deemed it to be "natural causes". It will never appear before the D.A. and never appear before a grand jury.

 

In at least 5 recent google-able instances in my state, criminal investigations have been re-opened due to evidence and expert testimony uncovered through civil action. Here are two examples:

 

A jail in my county had detained an inmate who had ingested a large quantity of methamphetamine upon being arrested. The man collapsed while in jail, began convulsing, and fluid began coming out of his mouth. Jail staff had watched, laughed, shared some jokes, left, came back, and spent 30 minutes while the man was unconscious debating among themselves whether they should call an ambulance. The subsequent investigation found no wrongdoing. After 6 months, a video emerged of the incident where local news agencies began to narrate stories on the incident. Public outrage prompted the case to be re-opened. One officer was terminated, but no criminal charges were held against the jail. The civil case settled for $1.0 Million. Criminal charges require a specific statute that had been violated, while civil cases are interpreted through civil rights. 99% (real number) of civil cases against public entities entailed no wrong-doing found by investigators.

 

In another case, a police department had lost dashcam footage of a shooting. During the civil proceedings, one dashcam video was recovered by an anonymous person within the jail. Upon being admitted as evidence in the civil case, the case was suspended and a criminal investigation was re-opened. In this case, 2 officers were charged with manslaughter. The case settled for $5.0 Million

 

The soul reason I bring these situations up is to establish that it is not only common for a civil case to ensue despite no wrongdoing having been found, or investigation, but to express that even if no wrongdoing is found, it does not always mean there was no wrongdoing.

 

Facts:

1) Records indicate the decedent was complaining of nausea, and vomited at least once the night before she died.

2) The autopsy indicated massive bruising across the entire body, most notably around the wrists, ankles, and neck, with other large bruises on the abdomen and legs and pock-marked bruising throughout the whole body. The detective verbally indicated that, "These bruises are incumbent of someone who lives a transient lifestyle" before stating that "she may have had a seizure but her medical records indicate a history of seizure disorders". After retrieving over 500 pages of medical history, the decedent was never found to have any history of seizures in any medical record.

3) The intake photograph (aka Mug Shot) shows no such bruising around the neck. The jail has refused and/or lost additional video and photos of the decedent from the jail the night prior to and after her death despite a tort claim being filed on time and a retention request being sent less than 45 days after. Current retention is 90 days in my state (the length video evidence must be stored unless a tort is filed). The jail will not attest to the cause of the bruising.

4) The cause of death was "Subarachnoid Hemhorage", aka "Berry Aneurysm". The medical examiner did not speculate about the condition, as this is often not their job. IE: If someone died of blunt force trauma, they will list blunt force trauma but will not speculate about whether a person had fallen, had been in a car accident, or had been hit with a bat.

 

5) In our case, correspondence with an expert in aneurysms indicated the following which is consistent with most online resources:

- 2-3% Of Americans currently have an unruptured aneurysm. 60-80% of these persons will never suffer from a ruptured aneurysm.

- Only 15% of Americans whose aneurysms burst will die before reaching the hospital. The high survival rate is due to symptoms, which are intense and undismissable. 20% will die at the hospital, with nearly 75% of those due to a failure to perform a CAT scan aka mis-diagnosis.

- A berry aneurysm, in nearly 90% of cases, will be preceded by: Intense Headache, Nausea, Vomiting, and later Seizure, Slurred Speech, and Loss of Motor Function. The rupture will often start with a slow drip and accelerate into a full hemorrhage.

- Over 65% of individuals who have a berry aneurysm will survive, and of those, nearly 40% will have no lasting effects. The rate of survival is greater than a heart attack in a non-hospital facility.

- Things that can prompt an aneurysm to rupture: Sudden Drop followed by Sudden Rise in Blood Pressure, or when the condition is more advanced, heavy sneezing, coughing, sudden movement, or other activities.

- The number one cause of a sudden drop and sudden rise in blood pressure is asphyxiation, choking, or drowning.

 

I am curious how you would feel about answering the following questions:

 

1) If an inmate is having severe chest pain, and notifies the guard, do you believe it is the guard's duty to respond to the complaint by:

A) Ignoring the inmate

B) Waiting to see if it gets worse, or the person collapses

C) Contacting a Medical Professional

 

If you answered A, the inmate has no chance of survival.

If you answered B, the inmate has less than 10% chance of survival

If you answered C, the inmate has a 60% chance of survival

 

2) To what extent is a public agent or body responsible for the safety of a person under arrest?

A) Not at all, the inmate is a criminal.

B) Only as much as the public body can afford.

C) Only to the extent which the public agent or body deems so through internal protocol.

D) As much-so to the inmate as is reasonable to insure the life and safety of the inmate.

 

3) An inmate is not really an inmate; in fact, the inmate has been committed and is simply being held at the jail until a bed is available at the state hospital. The inmate has been charged with no jail-able offense. To what extent is a public agent or body responsible for the safety of the person under arrest?

A) Not at all, the inmate is in jail.

B) Only as much as the public body can afford.

C) Only to the extent which the public agent or body deems so through protocol.

D) As much-so to the inmate as is reasonable to insure the life and safety of the inmate.

 

4) An inmate is not being held on a crime, has been adjudicated mentally ill, and is being held in jail pending transfer to a state hospital. The inmate became irritated during strip search, as she was advised by her attorney when agreeing to commitment that she would not be put in jail. The guards responded to the irritation as resistance, and began to hold the inmate down. The inmate was surprised, and attempted to free herself from the guard, so the guard placed the inmate into a choke hold for 3 minutes while the other guard placed the inmate in handcuffs and shackles. Upon releasing the inmate, she had what appeared to be a seizure and lost consciousness. She awoke several hours later, where the guards had placed her in holding. She complained of a headache, and threw up. The guards continued to monitor her in holding for another 9 hours, after which at 10:30pm a guard escorted the inmate to her pod. She complained again of nausea, and she was provided a red biohazzard bag. She was dizzy and having trouble coordinating, so the guard asked the other inmate who shared her pod to move to the top bunk. She was found 8 hours later by her cellmate deceased. Cause of death: Berry Aneurysm. A detective found no wrong-doing, as the death was caused by a natural cause, a berry aneurysm. Do you believe that the family:

 

A) Will accept there was no wrong-doing, and go about their lives having suffered an unfortunate loss?

B) Will carry a belief of injustice, but will go about their lives having suffered an unfortunate loss?

C) Will hire an attorney, and pursue civil action?

D) [ Censored ]

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Your problem here is that you are operating from the assumption that somebody has to be responsible for your daughter's death, other than your daughter and or mother nature/God/fate. Your daughter evidently was an inmate because if she wasn't she wouldn't have been incarcerated to begin with. It isn't clear if she knew she had a medical condition and clearly articulated to anyone that she was experiencing symptoms of that condition or if she had what are fairly ordinary symptoms of any number of benign conditions and in her case it was one of the rare instances where that was not true. Certainly being nauseous and vomiting then getting a headache is pretty common and 99% of the time it is not indicative of anything fatal.

 

Bruising can take days to appear so even if it was present when she died and not when during the mug shot, there isn't a clear indicating when the injury took place. It could have been in the days prior to the arrest, during whatever it was that caused her to be arrested, during the arrest process, or at some other time. Even knowing she was in a fight or had an accident that caused bruising wouldn't automatically translate to the county being responsible for her death.

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So what you are suggesting is that John Doe handcuffed, shackled, and choked her prior to her 11:00am mugshot, and the bruises appeared over a day later on her deceased body.

What I am suggesting is that Deputy John Doe handcuffed, shackled, and choked her after 11:00am some time during intake or shortly after, and they appeared 12-19 hours later on her deceased body.

 

Let's evaluate each theory.

 

If she had been hurt some time between 7:30am when she arrived at the courthouse and 11:00am when she was delivered to the jail, then it must have been her lawyer, the judge, or the police transport is what you are saying right?

 

If not, then it must have been an attacker prior to court who happened to have cuffs, shackles, and a motive.

 

You realize that 100% of everything out there is theory right... there is a 99.999% chance that it was Shane Stant's club that broke Nancy Kerigan's leg, but there's a 1/100 of 1% chance that she could have broke her legs while practicing some very risky maneuvers on solid ice that morning too, and it was actually a wiffle bat in the video, right?

 

There's a good chance that it wasn't John Wilks Booth's bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln... he could have had intent, pulled the gun out, shot, but he could have missed also and it was actually T. Ferrie Franklin Godmeither who did it using a common semi-auto assassin's weapon of the day called a Girandoni air rifle. Maybe a 1 in 100,000 chance, but it's possible right? So why were these men put in jail?

 

It's not "Any Doubt", it's "Reasonable Doubt".

 

There are many hours of video of her at the jail. There's cameras in the parking lot, cameras in the intake area, cameras in the holding area, cameras in the pod zone. If they're so anxious to exonerate themselves, why not produce the video? You realize Spoilation of Evidence in Federal courts is cause alone to give us the benefit of doubt, right? They were sent a tort and a request to retain electronic evidence in time, if the video's gone, then it's spoilation of evidence, plain and simple. Federal Law: Destruction & Tampering with Evidence.

 

I find it funny how everyone here, EVERYONE with stars under their name are REALLY good at ignoring just enough of the facts to try and make a reasonable counter-argument. If I ignored 50% of the facts, I could make anything truth. You know as well as I do that is not how cases are fought, juries won over, and judgments made.

 

How about this -- I have an expert witness who will attest that bruises before they are dark black bodies will appear red and inflamed before the familiar dark brown or purple bruising begins to appear. if she had those bruises prior to intake, and they would have been clearly visible on the intake photo, even if they were recent. Her neck is completely divoid of any such marks.

 

I also have an expert witness who will attest that a significant number of aneurysms will burst from choking.

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No entity is going to turn over video to anyone who asks for it so they can go on a fishing expedition to see if maybe something happened. The reasons for this should be obvious. Lots of them. Even if she had bruising from someone at the jail, that does not mean they were criminally responsible for her death or even liable in any way. Was any force that might have been used excessive? No matter what happened, you have nothing more than speculation that whatever "it" was led to the aneurysm. It isn't clear anyone at the jail even knew she had one and was at risk- or even that she did. If she did know, did she communicate that to anyone and then and only then did someone either intentionally injure her or neglect her symptoms knowing it wasn't just an upset tummy and a headache?

 

Do you have any idea what she was doing in the 48 hours leading up to her arrest? "These bruises are incumbent of someone who lives a transient lifestyle" does not sounds like recent blunt force trauma.

 

I get it. If anything happened to my sister I'd be screaming for answers too and would be looking for someone or something to blame. That does not automatically translate into having a legal right or remedy to what you are seeking.

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