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Wrongful Death Suit Filed After Inmate Denied Medication

Paige Tears-Gladstone9 months ago

An inmate passed away in a Denver jail after being denied his prescribed psychiatric medication, leading to a wrongful death suit.

Events Leading Up

According to a wrongful death suit filed Thursday in Denver, John Patrick Walter died in the Fremont County jail in April 2014 after having his psychiatric medication withheld. Walter had been prescribed a dose of clonazepam, a psychotropic medication used to treat anxiety disorders and other related issues, when he was booked on a felony assault charge.

Studies have shown clonazepam can cause dependency and abrupt interruptions to use can result in withdrawal. Jail staff did not wean Walter off his medication, propelling him into physical and psychological distress-including a 30-pound weight loss, incontinence, and assorted other symptoms.

According to Reuters, the wrongful death suit notes that Walter’s break from reality was so extreme that he could be heard screaming in his cell while he kicked, punched, and clawed at the walls and door in attempt to escape imaginary assailants.

The Wrongful Death Suit

Lawyers for his family said he was discovered naked in his cell and had been physically abused by staff. Autopsy listed the cause of death as undetermined, but the lawyer for the family noted that the coroner hadn’t been privy to all the information.

The attorney added that the deceased had a suffered a variety of injuries during the two weeks he was incarcerated, including broken ribs. In spite of Walter’s spiraling deterioration in the midst of his withdrawal, the jail deputies sprayed him with pepper spray, shocked him with a stun gun, and strapped him in a restraint chair.

Defendants named in the suit are the Fremont County Sheriff James Beicker, jail deputies, and the healthcare corporation that contracts with that county.

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