The teenage inmate complained of severe chest pain – and was prescribed a bottle of ibuprofen and antacids.
The family of an 18-year-old who died in a Fulton County, Georgia prison has filed a lawsuit against the facility’s health care provider claiming the student’s death could have been prevented.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Tyrique Jameal Tookes was found dead in his cell in Full County Jail on May 4, 2019.
Tookes, according to the Journal constitution, had complained of chest pain for two weeks before his death. His family’s lawsuit alleges that if prison health workers took his complaints seriously and took him to the hospital for X-rays, he would be alive.
The complaint states that Tookes’ official cause of death is listed as cardiac tamponade from a ruptured aorta.
While Tookes was in good health when booked in Fulton on March 8th, he developed severe chest pain a few weeks later.
On April 27, Tookes was examined at the prison medical center after complaining of chest tightness, “constant severe pain,” and palpitations. Although Tookes himself rated the pain as “ten out of ten” in terms of severity, one doctor examined his case as a possible heartburn.
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Tooke Saw then saw ice packs and ibuprofen with instructions to return to the health clinic if he had any further problems.
Although prison staff continued to monitor Tookes’ condition, they never prescribed anything other than antacids – and even canceled one of the teen’s follow-up appointments.
Mawuli Davis, a lawyer for the Tookes family, said his clients believe Fulton County and its healthcare company NaphCare were negligent and directly responsible for Tookes’ death.
“From our point of view,” said Davis, “they have been grossly negligent in their actions.”
The lawsuit names Fulton County Jail Health Contractor NaphCare as the defendant, along with several individual doctors and nurses.
NaphCare won a $ 20 million contract to provide health services to Fulton County Jail after nearly half a dozen inmates died within 75 days, according to the Journal.
While NapCare declined the Journal’s request for comment, the company released a statement reiterating its commitment to patient care.
“The death of Tyrique Tookes is a tragedy and we are deeply saddened by this loss of life,” the company said in a statement it emailed. “NaphCare cannot comment on any pending litigation. We stand behind the quality of care for our patients and we continue to strive to provide each patient with the best possible health care. “
Even so, Davis and the Tookes family insist that Tyrique die because NaphCare and the Fulton County Jail abandoned him.
“This young man’s life just wasn’t valued,” said Davis. “If a person who was not in custody said, ‘I have severe chest pain,’ they would be rushed to the emergency room and treated.”
Davis went on to say that Tookes’ death is indicative of a system of “profit over people” values.
“They are in their care and responsibility, and companies have a responsibility to keep them safe,” said Davis.
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The 18-year-old inmate was found dead in the prison cell after complaining of chest pain, GBI says