By Christy Strawser, CBS Detroit
MACOMB COUNTY (CBS Detroit) He couldn’t pay the $772 fine for a careless driving ticket that had turned into an obstruction of justice charge, so he was sent to jail for 30 days.
In Macomb County Jail, David Stojcevski, 32, lost 50 pounds, wilting away, twitching, under the glare of prison lights in the two-person cell he shared off and on with other inmates from June 11-June 27, 2014.
Then with the cameras rolling in the cell where he was allegedly on suicide watch, he died — alone, visibly breathing his last before medical personnel rushed in from outside the glass and try in vain to resuscitate him.
“This is shameful, substantial and unconscionable neglect,” said Robert Ihrie, senior partner at the firm handling a lawsuit against Macomb County on behalf of David Stojcevski’s family.
Stojcevski died of benzodiazepine withdrawal, the attorney said, brought on by lack of his prescribed methadone treatment.
His family is seeking a “substantial amount” from Macomb County in a wrongful death suit.
Stojcevski’s parents were immigrants from Serbia and Macedonia, who were in the baking business. His family did not visit him in the days he was in jail, but had “made a decision like so many parents do that they were exercising some tough love,” Ihrie said.
Stojcevski was in a medical unit, under constant video surveillance, when he died.
“Like an animal, he’s crawling underneath something to die,” said addiction expert Diane Rockwell, as she watched video of a trembling Stojcevski, emaciated and alone, in his cell. WDIV broke the story with the video. WATCH THE VIDEO HERE, but note that it is disturbing.
The county’s attorney Ron Chapman did not return a call seeking comment and Sheriff Anthony Wickersham told CBS Detroit only “no comment.”
Brother Vladimir Stojcevski, who filed the lawsuit, wrote this on David Stojcevski’s memorial page of the funeral home that handled his arrangements:
“YOU WILL NEVER EVER BE FORGOTTEN. I AM SO HAPPY THAT THE REAL ST0RY IS OUT, AND NOW LET GOD PUNISH THESE INHUMANE , HEARTLESS, SOCIOPATHS FACE THE MUSIC. ITS TIME SOMEONE STANDS UP AND IS THE VOICE BEHIND THIS AND YOU KNOW I WILL NOTTT STOP UNTIL WE GET TO THE F’N VERY BOTTOM OF IT, OR TO THE VERY TOP OF IT. SHAME ON YOU ANIMALS!!!”
Vladimir Stojcevski filed a wrongful death claim in March against Macomb County in federal court in Detroit. The case, and the incident, came to light for the first time this week when the video surfaced.
The lawsuit names Wickersham, 16 deputies, Correct Care Solutions, which provides prison healthcare, and several mental health workers as those the Stojcevski family holds responsible for the man’s death.
The lawsuit says Stojcevski was on Xanax, and other medications including a daily dose of 60 mg of methadone, which is generally used for recovering heroin addicts. The medication was listed on his intake forms, the suit says.
“He had a potential for withdrawal,” the suit says.
He was moved between a jail cell and a mental health unit several times, including a time on June 17 when it was noted he was hallucinating and talking to himself.
On June 21, the suit says, Stojcevski asked if his medication was forthcoming and was told “medication has not been ordered at this time.”
“All of the named defendants herein were so deliberately indifferent to David’s mental health and medical needs that the defendants, named and unnamed in this litigation, monitored, watched and observed David spend the final 10 days of his life suffering excruciating benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms,” the suit says.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal, according to wikipedia, is marked by “sleep disturbance, irritability, increased tension and anxiety, panic attacks, hand tremor, sweating, difficulty with concentration, confusion and cognitive difficulty, memory problems, dry retching and nausea, weight loss, palpitations, headache, muscular pain and stiffness, a host of perceptual changes, hallucinations, seizures, psychosis and suicide.”