The New York Daily News is reporting on a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Budge & Heipt on behalf of the family of a man who died in jail. The lawsuit alleges excessive force and lack of constitutionally-required medical care leading up to and surrounding the death.
“The senselessness of his death has affected me deeply. It was totally preventable. It sickens me to know he needed to go to the hospital and was denied. They treated him as if his life did not matter,” Teresa Sabbie said in the statement.
Sabbie can be seen on video struggling with a group of officers before shouting “I can’t breathe” nearly two dozen times in July 2015. He was thrown to the ground before being piled on by five corrections officers and pepper-sprayed the night before he died.
In the video, Sabbie was thrown down after he appeared to try to walk away from a cell block. Soon swarmed by guards, Sabbie also said he had pneumonia.
On a medical questionnaire form, Sabbie listed several illnesses he was suffering from including heart trouble, diabetes, Asthma and mental illness, NBC News reports.
In the family’s complaint filed Wednesday, they allege a series of failures inside the jail forced Sabbie “to endure extreme and needless pain and suffering.”
“The medical neglect in this case went way beyond negligence,” Heipt told NBC. “It’s a textbook example of deliberate indifference.”
The family’s attorney, Erik Heipt, told the Huffington Post in October 2016 that Sabbie said he couldn’t breathe 19 times in the nine minute video.
“If you just looked at the cause of death, you would think that Michael died of some sort of hypertensive heart condition, and that may be true,” Heipt said. “But if we didn’t have a video, we’d never know that he had been begging for help due to his shortness of breath and inability to breathe.”
Sabbie died at the Bi-State Justice Center three days after being arrested on a misdemeanor domestic assault charge last July after he got into an argument with Teresa and allegedly threatened her.
No criminal or federal charges were brought forward in relation to Sabbie’s death in the jail.