Guy Dies in Jail Cell After Guards Ignore His Allergies

Michael Saffioti, 22, jailed on minor marijuana charge
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2013 9:00 AM CST
Guy Dies in Jail Cell After Guards Ignore His Allergies
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

Michael Saffioti was in Washington's Snohomish County Jail on a minor marijuana possession charge—the 22-year-old had actually turned himself in. But he paid an enormous price: He had severe dairy allergies, and died after apparently being served oatmeal containing dairy. The guards allegedly accused Saffioti of "faking" his distress, the Huffington Post reports. Though Saffioti died on July 3, 2012, his story is making headlines now because his mother is suing the county, alleging the jail knew about his medical needs and served him unsafe food anyway. This week, KIRO TV got footage from the jail that appears to show Saffioti talking to the guards, servers, and even fellow inmates about his breakfast—video his mother's lawyer had to fight to obtain; she says the county initially insisted it didn't exist.

After being "assured the oatmeal in the food was safe for eating," the lawyer says, Saffioti took a few bites. Just a few minutes later, he started using his inhaler and returned to the guard desk. But instead of being sent to the nurse, as he requested, Saffioti was returned to his cell, the lawsuit claims. More video shows him jumping up and down as other inmates look in; the lawsuit claims he also pressed his call button, but received no response. Thirty-five minutes after he started eating, Saffioti was found unconscious in his cell by a guard; he was soon pronounced dead at a hospital. And because Saffioti had been at the jail before, "they absolutely knew about Michael's medical needs" and even had a medical file on him, the lawyer says, adding that the module received no special diet trays on the day of Saffioti's death. (Another tragic story today: A teen seeking help after a car crash was shot dead after knocking at someone's door.)

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