A South Carolina woman who was dragged from a hospital by police over unpaid court fines has died. It was only 27 hours after she was forcibly removed from the hospital and jailed over the fines that she died as a result of police refusing her access to both health care as well as even a simple drink of water.
Joyce Curnell, 50, was found dead in the jail cell she was hauled into back on July 22, only one day after being arrested at Roper Hospital.
She was to be treated for a stomach illness, but police believed that the treatment could wait. So they arrested her and took her to the Charleston County Jail, according to The Post and Courier.
Curnell was so sick in the cell, however, that she couldn’t eat or even call for help, court documents reveal.
She had originally been transported by an ambulance to Roper Hospital after experiencing nausea and vomiting.
In the emergency room, she was diagnosed with gastroenteritis, and required immediate treatment.
But for some reason, police at the hospital searched her for warrants and discovered that she had an outstanding fine.
Back in April 2012 she had been placed on a payment plan for the $1,148.90 fines. But by August, it became clear that she could not afford the payments.
Curnell’s son is planning a lawsuit, after doctors told her family that the death could almost certainly have been prevented had she been treated for the stomach problem and dehydration and the irritation of her stomach and intestines.
Simply put: Ms. Curnell died because she was deprived of water,” Dr. Maria Gibson, of Medical University Hospital said.
The family has filed suit against the jail’s medical contractor, Carolina Center for Occupational Health, for malpractice. They claim that medical staffers ignored repeated requests to help Curnell.
Instead, Curnell was placed in a housing unit, rather than being taken to the jail’s medical facility. There she was just given a trash bag to vomit in, and was not given water or intravenous fluids thereafter.
“It is very unfortunate to hear of another death of an African-American while in police custody,” Shaundra Scott, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina said. “If Ms. Curnell was denied medical treatment, then it is our position that her constitutional rights were violated.”
Source: Counter Current News