The household of a 27-year-old lady who died after her bodily and psychological well being declined throughout 17 days in a western New York jail has sued 73 Erie County sheriff’s workers, claiming all of them didn’t get her medical assist {that a} medical overview board stated may have saved her life.

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India Cummings died on the Erie County Medical Heart Feb. 21, 2016, after struggling a pulmonary embolism ensuing from renal failure, rhabdomyolysis (a breakdown of muscle tissue), dehydration and an untreated damaged arm, in response to a June report issued by the New York State Fee of Correction. The fee’s medical overview board, which investigates in-custody deaths, in June 2018 discovered the medical and psychological well being care Cummings obtained whereas incarcerated on the Erie County Holding Heart was “so grossly incompetent and insufficient as to shock the conscience.” 

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The New York legal professional basic opened an investigation into the dying final yr. And Cummings’ household, which had already filed a lawsuit towards the Erie County Sheriff and others, final week filed an extra lawsuit towards the deputies after piecing collectively a timeline of Cummings’ final days by way of jail information, household lawyer Matthew Albert advised CBS Information.

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“We got here to the conclusion there have been 70-plus deputies, all of whom had adequate time to see a severely in poor health particular person in custody could not take care of herself, and none of whom cared for her in any method,” Albert stated.

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India Cummings


The medical overview board discovered that Cummings suffered the damaged arm throughout her Feb. 1, 2016, arrest by the Lackawanna Police Division and dominated that Cummings would have survived with the suitable care, supervision and intervention. The board stated her dying needs to be dominated a murder by medical neglect, disagreeing with the Erie County Medical Examiner in its ruling that the trigger and method of Cummings’ dying have been each undetermined.

In line with the Buffalo Information, the county pathologist dominated the dying to be issues from a damaged arm together with rhabdomyolysis, however could not decide the trigger or method as a result of it wasn’t clear whether or not her arm was damaged by accident or by officers.

Albert advised CBS Information that Cummings’ remedy earlier than her dying seems to be “par for the course” for the Erie County Holding Heart, which has confronted criticism over medical and psychological well being take care of inmates. The Enchantment studies that Cummings was amongst 24 individuals who died within the jail in the course of the tenure of sheriff Timothy Howard, who took the workplace in 2005. 

A 2018 report by the Fee of Correction discovered the Erie County Holding Heart to be among the many “most problematic native correctional amenities within the state.” It famous “quite a few critical incidents” together with inmate assaults, escapes and deaths, and stated the fee has launched enforcement actions towards the Erie County sheriff for failure to appropriate violations, together with not reporting tried inmate suicides. 

The fee additionally cited a 2012 suicide by an inmate it discovered had not been correctly referred for psychological well being remedy, and an inmate who died of a perforated ulcer in 2014 after it discovered staffers did not present sufficient medical care.

Cummings’ mom, Tawana Wyatt, stated her daughter suffered below the watch of the deputies on the holding heart, who ought to have had her security in thoughts.

“I simply pray that they be delivered to justice,” Wyatt advised advised CBS affiliate WIVB.

Police responded to Cummings’ Lackawanna house for a psychological well being emergency Feb. 1, 2016, and after they arrived she carjacked a car, led police on a chase and crashed into a number of vehicles, in response to the board’s report. She was combative throughout her arrest, and police compelled her out of the automobile and onto the bottom. Based mostly on the character of the decision and Cummings’ erratic conduct, the report discovered she ought to have been evaluated at a hospital earlier than being jailed, however wasn’t. Cummings had no identified medical or psychological well being points or a felony historical past, the report discovered.

Within the 17 days she was incarcerated within the Erie County Holding Heart, she was refusing meals and drugs and displaying weird conduct together with smearing moist cereal and defecating on her cell flooring, mendacity in her cell bare and throwing trash round, the report stated. The medical overview board’s report stated her fractured arm went untreated and jail workers did not report a vital commentary that she hadn’t urinated in 40 hours and was hyperventilating, an indication of renal failure. She was hospitalized Feb. 17 after struggling a cardiac arrest on the jail, in response to the report, and died a number of days later.

The lawsuit says Cummings’ worsening bodily and psychological situation constituted a medical emergency, and it outlines quite a few situations by which it says jail workers ought to have transported her to the hospital, however did not.

It says Cummings had an pressing referral for psychological well being remedy on Feb. three due to the acute change in her conduct and a bodily altercation with deputies, however regardless of the referral, she was transferred to a non-medical disciplinary housing unit. On Feb. 5, the lawsuit says, Cummings was seen to be “delusional, minimally engaged, disorganized and responding to inner stimuli” and was transferred to a unit for inmates with identified medical situations, however nonetheless did not obtain remedy.

She was scheduled to be transferred on Feb. eight to the Erie County Medical Heart for an analysis of her severely fractured left arm, however the lawsuit says a deputy by no means took her there as a result of Cummings refused transportation. The deputy ought to have identified Cummings’ wasn’t of sound thoughts and could not make medical choices for herself, the lawsuit claims.

Cummings did not obtain any documented medical remedy till Feb. 11, the lawsuit says, when she was assessed by a forensic psychological well being doctor on the urging of the native felony courtroom. The doctor was advised that Cummings appeared “more and more confused” and hadn’t been consuming or ingesting. The doctor opined that Cummings may have hospital care. 

The identical day a nurse tried to make an evaluation and famous that Cummings was matted and had poor hygiene, and that her left forearm was unsupported and had a reddish hue. the lawsuit says. Additionally on Feb. 11, an Erie County Division of Forensic Psychological Well being counselor stated Cummings “seemed to be decompensated. She is disengaged and her conduct is weird,” the lawsuit says.

Cummings was positioned on meal monitoring and “fixed commentary” throughout which a deputy was assigned to watch her each 15 minutes, in response to the lawsuit. The lawsuit says almost each jail file notation between Feb. 11 and Feb. 16 exhibits Cummings mendacity on the ground of her bunk, and for six days Cummings was seen “to not have consumed sufficient meals, to not have consumed sufficient hydration, and is noticed to be bare, urinating and defecating in her cell.”

“Regardless of this, no try is made by the above-captioned defendants to help Cummings, have her transported to a hospital, or in any other case are inclined to her critical medical wants,” the lawsuit states. “From February 11, 2016 to February 17, 2016, the above-captioned sheriff’s deputies, sergeants and lieutenants assigned to watch Cummings actually watch her die and documented the identical.”

On Feb. 13, a deputy noticed Cummings urinating on the ground, putting her garments in the bathroom and making an attempt to place them again on. She advised the deputy she had not been consuming, in response to the lawsuit, and stated “I am dying.”

On Feb. 16, a forensic psychological well being employee noticed Cummings “defecating on the ground of her cell, rubbing cereal on her physique, and throwing meals on the ground, in response to the lawsuit. Data observe Cummings “drank slightly milk at the moment” however refused meals, the lawsuit says, saying “I do not belief” when inspired to eat. A forensic psychological well being employee famous Cummings “wants inpatient,” the lawsuit says, however she once more wasn’t transported.

The subsequent day, Cummings turned unconscious and was transported to a hospital. She was discovered to be critically in poor health, having suffered cardiac arrest, extreme dehydration, malnutrition and organ failure. She died Feb. 21. The lawsuit says she sustained “nice ache, struggling and bodily anguish” and was residing in inhumane situations the place she was allowed to “wallow in her personal waste” earlier than her dying.

The lawsuit argues all of the 73 sheriff’s workers violated Cummings’ Constitutional rights and claims three of the deputies engaged in malicious prosecution for charging Cummings for her non-compliant conduct whereas she was mentally unstable, basically “criminalizing” her psychological sickness.

The Erie County Sheriff’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for remark from CBS Information. A spokeswoman for the division would not remark to the Enchantment, citing the pending lawsuit.

Albert stated Cummings’ household has been devastated by her dying, however they hope that it is going to be a “turning level” in how persons are handled on the holding heart and a “car for change” when it comes to prisoner’s rights nationally.

“My prayer and my objective is for not one other India to return by way of that holding heart,” Wyatt advised WIVB.


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