Justice

David Stojcevski, In Jail for a Ticket, Dies on Video in Michigan

September 25th 2015

By:
Alex Mierjeski

The family of David Stojcevski—a 32-year-old man who died while serving a 30-day jail sentence for failing to pay a traffic violation—is suing the county, prison officials, and a health contractor for gross negligence, following the death of their son. 

The case made headlines this week after the local NBC affiliate WDIV published an investigation into Stojcevski's death, which was reported as a severe drug withdrawal. The family's attorney released an autopsy stating that the cause of death was "acute withdrawal from chronic benzodiazepine, methadone and opiate medications."

Stojcevski was jailed in June of 2014. He was serving a 30-day sentence after he was unable to pay a $772 fine for not appearing in court for a careless driving charge, NBC reports. In jail, Stojcevski did not receive the necessary treatment for his condition.

 

Prison surveillance footage shows Stojcevski, a drug addict, naked and convulsing on the floor in what reports indicate was one of the most highly-monitored jail cells at Detroit's Macomb County Jail. The family says that although prison officials knew Stojcevski was on a number of different addiction medications, his condition was "essentially ignored." 

"They know their son had made some mistakes in judgment over the years but ... never in their wildest imaginations did they ever think that their son would be carried out essentially on a stretcher," the family's lawyer, Robert Ihrie told NBC News. "How could this possibly have happened?"

According to WDIV, Stojcevski was taking prescription Methadone, Xanax, and Klonopin as treatment for drug addiction. But the 32-year-old was not given the medication by prison officials, according to the lawsuit filed by the family against the county, multiple officials, and health services contractor Correct Care Solutions following the death.

Though he was sentenced to 30 days, Stojcevski served just over half the time before discovered dead on his cell floor, having rapidly lost 50 pounds, apparently hallucinating, and suffering multiple convulsions—all signs of extreme drug withdrawal, according to experts cited by WDIV. Stojcevski's cell was for high-risk prisoners, and reportedly monitored 24 hours per day. Inmates are not given their clothes or uniforms as a safety precaution, and they are checked every 15 minutes, WDIV reported. His death, experts said, is perplexing given the amount of monitoring he was thought to be subject to. 

"It's unconscionable that they let this human being suffer like this," Dr. Donna Rockwell, a psychologist and drug addiction specialist, told WDIV. "I guess his life didn't matter." 

A county attorney told WDIV that jail staff did what was required of them, and that the lawsuit does not have legal standing. The Macomb County Sherrif's Office did not immediately respond to ATTN:'s request for comment.