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Suit Charges Florida Detainee Died of Neglect

The estate of a pretrial detainee who was “neglected to death” sued Florida’s Broward County Jail (BCJ) and its medical contractor, Armor Correctional Health Services (Armor). In other BCJ news, a guard was acquitted of assaulting a pretrial detainee.

Upon entering BCJ in February 2012, Raleigh Priester, 52, carried 240 pounds on his 6’2” frame. When he was found lying dead in August 2012 in a pool of vomit five months later, he weighed just 120 pounds.

“He died a slow and horrible death,” said attorney Greg Lauer, who filed the federal lawsuit in behalf of Priester’s estate.

Priester, an Army veteran, had a history of mental illness. After a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity on felony burglary and robbery charges in 1992, he spent the next 11 years in a state mental hospital. His latest brush with the law involved him hitting a parking garage with a rock after he was told he was trespassing, his appearance of one not in control of his mental facilities.

Once booked into BCJ, Priester was placed in solitary confinement. Jail medical records state that Priester refused to eat or take medication and he altered between banging his head on the cell floor or lying in the fetal position.

After he was found unresponsive on May 22, he was taken to a hospital, which found he had pneumonia, hypothermia, anemia, a blood infection, was suffering malnourishment and dehydration, and had festering open sores on his feet. A high calorie diet during his one-week hospital stay saw his weight jump from 139 to 151 pounds.

BCJ was given “specific instructions” to care for the “critically ill” Priester, who was “medically…very fragile.” Six weeks later he was found dead on his cell floor.

“They neglected him to death,” said Lauer, “They should have treated him like a human being, brought him to the hospital, treated the multiple infections he had. It’s indefensible.”

BCJ was also in news regarding a case of abuse by guard Delia Daly-England who was acquitted of the May 2012 assault on pretrial detainee Lauren Militello. Video evidence showed Militello being pushed to the ground violently and her head smashing into the wall. Militello is then dragged by the hair to a holding cell, where she said the beating continued.

Militello, who suffers multiple sclerosis and had a sprained ankle at the time, said Daly-England admitted slapping Militello in the face because she was becoming hostile.

A state jury acquitted Daly-England of assault charged on May 22, 2014 after 1-hour deliberation.

Sources: Sun Sentinel; 

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