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Missouri Jail Detainee Becomes Comatose, Treated in Hospital for Three Weeks

In September 2015, Bernard Scott, 44, was arrested for various traffic violations and jailed at the Pine Lawn, Mo. jail in St. Louis County. He was held on a $360 bond.

While in detention he called guards to his cell, where he complained of severe abdominal pain and bleeding. An ambulance from the Northeast Fire Protection District was called to examine Scott. While there paramedic Matthew Pay determined that Scott required immediate treatment and recommended to jail officials that he transport Scott to the emergency room. While jail officials initially directed Scott to put on his personal clothes so that he could be transported to the emergency room, they reversed course and denied the medical request, instead turning paramedic Pay away.

Fourteen minutes following Pay leaving the jail, jail officials allegedly discovered Scott hanging from a shoestring noose in his cell. According to media reports, the angle of his body indicated brain damage. Jail officials again called for paramedics, and another ambulance was dispatched to the jail. This time Scott was allowed to be taken to the emergency room. Following admittance to the hospital, he was comatose for more than 11 days and kept in the hospital for almost three weeks.

Following this report coming to light, jail and medical officials, along with Scott, are in disagreement as to what really occurred. According to Scott, jail officials would not allow him to be transferred to a hospital until he paid his bail, which resulted in him frantically calling family and friends in an attempt to secure the $360 bond. He also asserts that he did not try to hang himself. Pay, the paramedic, wrote in his report that he twice attempted to obtain permission to take Scott to the hospital, but that all attempts were rebuffed. And jail officials disagree with both, instead writing in reports various possible fact situations, many of which contradict the others. The only agreement to be had is disagreement, even unto the point of who was in command at the jail during the incident.

According to Northeast Fire Chief Quinten Randolph, there have been at least six occasions in the past few years where jail officials in his district have refused to release prisoners for transportation to hospitals at paramedic's requests. Following this incident, Michael Robertson's October 2015 jail death due to lack of insulin, and others, area corrections officials have vowed to do better. Only time will tell.


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