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Michigan Prisoner Dies from Cocaine Overdose, Sergeant and Paramedics Charged, $3.75 Million Settlement

by Scott Grammer

On December 10, 2017, 35-year-old William Marshall was arrested for possession of cocaine and marijuana in Westland, Michigan. At 7:51 a.m., only a bit more than an hour after being booked into jail, Marshall “had muscle spasms and was unable to walk,” according to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. She said “other inmates in the cell began asking for help for him.” That’s when Sgt. Ronald Buckley of the Westland Police Department called EMS. 

Paramedics Matthew Dicosola and Leah Maynard arrived at 8:01 a.m., and both they and Sgt. Buckley simply watched while Marshall convulsed in his cell, the prosecutor’s office stated. Worthy said Marshall asked for help, telling paramedics he was having a seizure. 

“He was then dragged from his cell into the hallway, at that time, neither paramedic did anything and never checked him for vital signs.... They never did an assessment and did not intervene to care for him at all,” Worthy added.

Marshall was back in his cell by 8:07 a.m., and Buckley sent the paramedics away. When he noticed almost an hour later that Marshall had not moved, he asked another officer to check his pulse. Jail staff then performed CPR and used a defibrillator on Marshall, who was pronounced dead at a hospital. The cause of death was cocaine toxicity.

On October 1, 2018, following an investigation by the Michigan State Police, Sgt. Buckley and paramedics Dicosola and Maynard were charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office for failing to provide medical care to Marshall. 

“The alleged conduct of the defendants in this case shows an inexcusable and criminal disregard for human life from those who have the duty to serve, protect and render aid to those in need,” Worthy said.

The manslaughter charges against Buckley, Dicosola and Maynard were dropped in January 2019, while the misconduct in office charges remain pending.

In May 2018, Marshall’s family was awarded $3.75 million in a wrongful death suit. The Wayne County Probate Court approved the settlement, which includes a $3.5 million payment from the city’s insurance company. 



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