The family of a prisoner who died about a week after being assaulted by guards at Michigan’s Wayne County Jail (WCJ) filed a wrongful death lawsuit in April 2015. The suit alleges inadequate medical care, and seeks $25 million in damages.
Abdul Akbar, 59, was serving a nine-month sentence for breaking and entering. On the morning of October 23, 2014, Akbar overslept and missed breakfast. Guards reported that he became belligerent and violent, smashing a computer and disregarding guards’ orders when they tried to restrain him.
According to statements Akbar made to medical personnel, he was “stomped in the face” by multiple guards. He told medical staff he was rendered unconscious from the beating, which was administered by up to eight guards. The guards and Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy contended that he was conscious at all times.
Video uncovered after Akbar’s death showed the callousness of two guards during the incident and substantiated Akbar’s claims of having been beaten unconscious. In the video, the guards are shown dragging his limp body over 100 feet down a hallway to an elevator.
Following the beating, a jail nurse determined that Akbar was “fine” with no signs of swelling and was able to stand. Yet medical records obtained by Worthy indicated that Akbar “received a fracture to the left mandibular joint and to the front of his chin.” The injury required surgery.
On the morning of November 1, 2014, at about 10:15 a.m., Akbar stuck his head outside his isolation cell. “Let me get some water,” he said. Seconds later, guards heard a thud and found him lying on the cell’s floor. He died before arriving at a hospital. Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt found that Akbar had died as a result of heart disease.
Akbar’s daughter, Malikah Akbar, and attorney David Robinson, however, claim his death was caused by the failure of jail personnel to provide adequate medical care following his injuries. For example, according to Robinson, at the time of Akbar’s jaw surgery, hospital staff were concerned that he might have been suffering from bleeding of the brain. Robinson argued that WCJ personnel did not monitor that situation, contributing to Akbar’s death.
Despite the allegations contained in the lawsuit, Worthy issued a statement relating her determination that “[the autopsy report] shows there was no medical connection between the injury and Mr. Akbar’s death eight days later.” As such, she said, “no criminal charges will issue in this case.”
The suit names Wayne County and jail employees Cpl. Kirk Traczynski and Sgt. Dean Harper. An investigation was launched into their actions, though they remained on the job at WCJ following Akbar’s death. The lawsuit is currently pending and on February 2, 2017 the district court appointed a discovery master. See: Akbar v. Wayne County, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Mich.), Case No. 2:15-cv-11459-BAF-MKM.
Sources: www.mlive.com, The Daily Dot, www.rt.com, www.news.vice.com
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Related legal case
Akbar v. Wayne County
|U.S.D.C. (E.D. Mich.), Case No. 2:15-cv-11459-BAF-MKM