22-Year-Old Jailed for Pot Possession Dies While Guards Ignore His Pleas for Help

A mother has finally obtained video
footage proving that her 22-year-old son died when guards in
a Snohomish County, Washington jail ignored his desperate
pleas for help. The victim, Michael Saffioti, was serving time
after missing a court date for a misdemeanor marijuana possession
charge. To make the awful story even worse, Saffioti’s mother
alleges that her son was killed by a severe allergic reaction
to oatmeal that prison officials erroneously told him was safe to
eat and then later covered up. She has spent the past year fighting
with the jail to obtain footage that might help explain his death.

The incident began in July of last year. Saffioti
turned himself in to the authorities in order to be “held
accountable for his legal issues
” and was promptly thrown
behind bars. He died less than 24 hours later.

As described by

Around 5:46, a group of inmates arrived to serve breakfast and
men began lining up. While others sat to eat, the camera first
captured Saffioti at the guard’s desk, holding his tray. Saffioti
suffered from extreme dairy allergies and took regular pains to
protect himself.

The video shows Saffioti apparently discussing his food [and
whether it contained dairy] with the guard, servers and fellow
inmates. Eventually, he took a few bites. Within a few minutes,
Saffioti was back at the guard desk, using his inhaler. According
to the legal claim, he asked to see a nurse. Instead, he was sent
to his cell.

Over the next half hour, the video shows other inmates looking
in Saffioti’s cell as he jumped up and down. The legal claim says
he pressed his call button and was ignored.

A fellow inmate who witnessed the incident claimed that a
corrections officer took Saffioti’s inhaler away and accused
him of “faking”
 his sickness. 


About 35 minutes after he ate, a guard found Saffioti
unconscious in his cell. The guard called for help and
Saffioti was dragged him out.

Nurses arrived and performed CPR. Everett firefighters took over
and rushed Saffioti to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a
half hour later.

Rose Saffioti, Michael’s mother, has insisted that the jail was
negligent in caring for her son’s health needs. According to Rose
and Cheryl Snow, the attorney representing his case, Michael was
always vigilant about checking his food and would have told the
guards about his allergies. Additionally, the prison had his
medical condition on file and was supposed to place him in a
separate medical unit.

“Our theory is that they absolutely knew about Michael’s medical
needs,” Cheryl Snow
told KIRO TV

However, when Saffioti’s mother stated her belief that the
guards’ negligence caused her son’s death last year, the jail
retorted that it had not. In a report compiled by the Snohomish
County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit, they claimed
that Michael died from bronchial asthma rather than an allergic
reaction. Consequently, county prosecutors decided not to
press criminal charges
against any guards.

Once Michael’s mother filed a request for video footage of her
son’s death though, jail officials
engaged in an intentional cover-up
. First, officials denied the
existence of any footage. When his mother discovered that this
wasn’t true, officials edited out incriminating portions of the

full video
, which confirms much of what inmate
witnesses told investigators
in interviews last year, is
finally available.  

Saffioti’s mother, who has filed suit against the county for $10
million, is unfortunately not alone. Over the past three years,
eight inmates have died in Snohomish County Jail.

Just four months after Michael’s death, Washington state
legalized recreational marijuana.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/07/22-year-old-jailed-for-pot-possession-di

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