A 27-year-old Nevada woman, Kelly Coltrain, was being held in a jail cell for failing to pay parking tickets. She reportedly told police she had a drug dependency which resulted in seizures and that she needed to go to a hospital. The police ignored her pleas and, after suffering from repeated convulsions, she died in less than an hour. It took six hours for anyone to notice.
Coltrain’s family is suing the Nevada County’s sheriff’s office for failing to provide her with the medical attention she needed – which contributed to her death. After learning Coltrain suffered seizures, Sergeant Jim Holland was supposed to provide her with medical care. Coltrain informed the deputy in charge, Ray Gulcynski, of her condition and that she needed medication. He told her no.
“Details of Coltrain’s death 13 months ago came to light this week with the release of a 300-page report compiled by state investigators. The investigation found that Coltrain’s jailers violated multiple policies when they denied her medical care after she informed them she was dependent on drugs and suffered seizures when she went through withdrawals.”
Gulcynski told Coltrain, “Unfortunately, since you’re DT’ing [detoxing], I’m not going to take you over to the hospital right now just to get your fix,” according to the report. “That’s not the way detention works, unfortunately. You are incarcerated with us, so … you don’t get to go to the hospital when you want. When we feel that your life is at risk… then you will go.”
The report went on to reveal that, on the third day in the jail cell, Coltrain began vomiting and “making short, convulsive type movements.” Holland ordered her to mop up her own vomit:
Sgt. Holland said he thought Coltrain was just ‘lazy’ and that she just didn’t want to stand up to clean the floor,” the report said.
A surveillance video from the cell shows Coltrain suffered multiple convulsions. At 6:26 p.m., her body stopped moving. Despite being in a video monitored cell, no one checked on her until just after midnight. At 12:30 a.m., Gulcynski found her unresponsive body, and she was declared dead.
(Jail staff) knew Kelly Coltrain had lain for days at the jail, in bed, buried beneath blankets, vomiting multiple times, refusing meals, trembling, shaking, and rarely moving,” lawyers Terri Keyser-Cooper and Kerry Doyle wrote in the lawsuit. “Defendants knew Kelly Coltrain was in medical distress.
Kelly Coltrain’s medical condition was treatable and her death preventable,” the lawyers wrote. “If Ms. Coltrain had received timely and appropriate medical care, she would not have died. Kelly Coltrain suffered a protracted, extensive, painful, unnecessary death as a result of defendants’ failures.
State investigators found the police failed to follow department policies which might have saved Coltrain’s life. A hospital was within walking distance from the cell, yet they chose to ignore her.
To avoid a conflict of interest, the investigation was forwarded to Lyon County District Attorney Stephen Rye for review. Rye declined to press charges in the case.
“The review of the case, in our opinion, did not establish any willful or malicious acts by jail staff that would justify the filing of charges under the requirements of the statute,” Rye said.
Coltrain’s family feels otherwise.
Holland took a buy-out, and Gulcynski was reportedly disciplined.
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