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Untreated Intoxication Death at Massachusetts Jail Results in $232,500 Settlement

The City of Lowell, Massachusetts agreed to a $232,500 settlement in a civil rights action related to the alcohol poisoning death of a woman in the Lowell Police Department (LPD) lockup.

Police officers arrested Alyssa Brame, 31, on January 12, 2013 for allegedly offering sex for money. She “was obviously intoxicated at the time of her arrest, but she was able to communicate and stand on her own,” the arresting officers reported, according to the complaint.

Brame was placed in a police vehicle that arrived at the LPD lockup at 10:40 p.m. When the officers removed her, she was sitting upright and mumbling her words. Unable to exit on her own, officers carried her out and set her in a semi-seated position on the ground.

Her extremely intoxicated state led senior officers to question how she could have been able to commit the charged crime. Brame lay on the floor at about 10:47 p.m. and began snoring. A civilian employee asked to call an ambulance, but that request was denied by a senior officer.

Police officers continued to notice deterioration in Brame’s condition as they entered the area but did nothing but remove her handcuffs before carrying her to the booking area at 10:55 p.m. She remained unconscious and did not respond to being jostled or moved.

Nonetheless, the booking process continued and she was placed in a cell. For the next one hour and six minutes, no one checked on Brame. During that time period, officers were seen in the booking room “watching TV and using the computer.”

When an officer finally checked on Brame at 12:05 a.m., she was unresponsive and had no pulse. Despite that, an ambulance was not called for another 13 minutes. An autopsy revealed that Brame died of alcohol poisoning, which could have been prevented “with medical attention shortly after she arrived at the police station,” the complaint argued.

The City of Lowell agreed in July 2015 to settle the civil rights suit filed by Brame’s estate. The settlement provided for Brame’s mother, Alice Swiridowsky-Muckle, to meet individually with each of the defendants “to provide her perspective on the impact of the events” resulting in Brame’s death. It also stated she will meet with LPD’s superintendent to review the “tangible changes” made “to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.” See: Swidowsky-Muckle v. Siopes, U.S.D.C. (D. Mass.), Case No. 1:15-cv-11777-RGS. 

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Related legal case

Swidowsky-Muckle v. Siopes