The systems that are in place to disproportionately incarcerate minorities are already a crippling issue in this country. But every new look we have at the horrible treatment many of them face while in custody raises even more concerns. The latest story of neglect by authorities comes from Florida where a man died after his complaints of illness went ignored.
In Aug. 2015, Max Gracia, 22, was arrested for armed robbery and resisting an officer with violence, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Upon his arrest, Gracia was bitten by a police dog, which held him for up to three minutes, before getting away and fleeing into a lake where he was later arrested.
Once placed in Orange County Jail, Gracia started to display symptoms of some sort of illness. AT 9:45 p.m., Aug 6., Gracia told an officer that he was unable to leave his bed upon request. When a nurse was called to the cell, she reported that he had been seen standing hours before and was likely “faking or exaggerating.”
Officer Arnulfo Vargas tried to get Gracia to move to a different cell so he could be watched more closely later on, but had no better results. Vargas reported both of the incidents to Cpl. Gwenetta Garrett and Gracia was reportedly punished for not following orders.
Later that night, Gracia was found groaning in pain while officers continued to ask him to get out of bed with no results. The next morning, he was found unconscious. He was then taken to a hospital where he died from a blood infection as a result of wounds from his arrest.
Upon finding out that the jail was directly responsible for Gracia’s death due to their negligence, his mother, expressed great frustration and threatened possible legal action.
“It’s not about the money,” Willine Gracia said. “It’s about the way that you treat another human being. Just because a person is incarcerated doesn’t make them dirt. It does not decrease the value of life”
Orange County Jail has released a statement taking ownership of the events leading up to Gracia’s death and has reportedly altered their protocol for similar situations.
“After Gracia’s death, a thorough medical review of his care was conducted by the Orange County Health Services Department. This review identified opportunities to improve processes and education for the Corrections Health Services Division,” a statement from Orange County reads. “All of the recommendations were adopted and have since been implemented.”
New interest has arisen in Gracia’s death as local news stations have been investigating the circumstances of his arrest and apparent lack of treatment while in police custody.
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