The family of a 27-year-old Nevada woman who died in police custody last year has sued the county sheriff’s office, accusing deputies of failing to provide her with necessary medical attention when she asked for it, thus contributing to her death. According to the suit, deputies also failed to notice that she had been dead in her cell for six hours before they bothered to check on her.
According to USA Today, in July 2017, Kelly Coltrain was locked up in a cell at the Mineral County jail for failing to pay parking tickets. Coltrain had reportedly told police she had a drug dependency with withdrawal symptoms that included seizures; though the officer in charge, Sergeant Jim Holland, was supposed to have a doctor clear Coltrain once he learned she had seizures, he did not, according to court documents.
Four hours into Coltrain’s lockup, she informed the deputy in charge, Ray Gulcynski, that she needed to go to a hospital to get her medication. He told her no.
“Unfortunately, since you’re DT’ing (referring to the detoxification process), I’m not going to take you over to the hospital right now just to get your fix,” Deputy Ray Gulcynski told Coltrain, according to the investigation report. “That’s not the way detention works, unfortunately. You are incarcerated with us, so … you don’t get to go to the hospital when you want. When we feel that your life is at risk… then you will go.”
On her third day in the cell, according to the report, Coltrain started vomiting and “making short, convulsive type movements.” Holland told her to mop up her vomit, which she attempted to do from her bed:
“Sgt. Holland advised he thought Coltrain was just ‘lazy’ and that she just didn’t want to stand up to clean the floor,” the report said. “Sgt. Holland advised he just wanted the floor to be cleaned and he didn’t care how it got done, just that it got cleaned up.”
Shortly after, surveillance video from the cell shows Coltrain suffering repeated convulsions. At 6:26 p.m., she stopped moving. No deputy entered her cell until 12:30 a.m., whereupon Gulcynski found her unresponsive and eventually declared dead.
State investigators found that the sheriff’s office failed to adhere to certain department policies that might have saved Coltrain’s life, and that the deputies could have walked Coltrain to an area hospital in a little over two minutes. Holland took a buy-out with the department, and Gulcynski was reportedly disciplined.
A county district attorney who investigated the case neglected to press charges, arguing that they did not exhibit any “cruel, oppressive or malicious treatment” toward Coltrain. Coltrain’s family is suing the county both to compensate damages as well as to press for better jail conditions.