A 35-year-old inmate begged for help as he convulsed in his jail cell from drug toxicity, but his pleas were ignored. Instead, a police sergeant and two paramedics allegedly stood by and watched as William Marshall suffered through convulsions and died. The three face one charge of involuntary manslaughter, which is failure to perform their legal duty.
A involuntary manslaughter charge carries up to 15 years in prison, while a count of misconduct while in office could put them away for another five years. Meanwhile, the city in which the death occurred has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with Marshall’s estate.
Traffic Stop, Then in Custody
The incident at Wayne County, Michigan’s Westland Jail took place December 10, 2017. In the early hours of the morning, Marshall, an Inkster resident, was stopped for a traffic violation. Marshall indicated just had a donut, but police noticed white powder on the side of his mouth.
Marijuana was found in his vehicle, but he denied any drug use, and appeared normal to the arresting officers. It was just after 6:30 a.m. when Marshall was booked into the Westland jail, and he seemed fine for a little more than an hour.
Shortly before 8 a.m., Marshall began experiencing muscle spasms and could no longer walk. Other inmates came to his aid, and called for help along with Marshall. The police sergeant, Ronald Buckley, called for emergency service personnel.
The paramedics, Leah Wayland and Matt Dicosola, arrived within a few minutes, but did nothing but watch Marshall convulse after he was removed from the cell. According to prosecutors, the paramedics did not conduct an assessment of the patient or help him in any way.
They did, however, say they would take him to the hospital, but Buckley ordered Marshall returned to his cell at 8:07 a.m. Buckley told the paramedics to leave, and he remained behind watching Marshall continue to convulse until 8:30 a.m., when he, too, left.
Dead Within an Hour
By 9:30 a.m., Marshall had stopped moving. Buckley was notified and asked an officer to check the inmate’s pulse. There was none. Police began performing CPR and used a defibrillator on Marshall. Paramedics rushed the man to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy found that cocaine toxicity was the cause of death. Marshall had apparently swallowed a large amount of the drug while in the jail.
An Earlier Drug Toxicity Death
Marshall wasn’t the only death from drug toxicity in Wayne County’s jails in 2017. On June 9, the day he was arrested and booked into the Ecorse Jail, Frank Porter died soon after consuming drugs. However, it wasn’t until the following day that anyone realized he had passed.
When arrested, Porter told police he had drunk a few beers but denied drug use, and he seemed normal at the time. After being placed in a cell, Porter moved about for 22 minutes, according to surveillance footage. He then sat in the cell with his head down.
When serving breakfast to Porter at 7 a.m., an officer saw him sitting there and assumed he was asleep. When the same officer came to give Porter lunch at about 2:30 p.m., he saw him in the same position and entered the cell to investigate. Porter was dead.
An autopsy concluded Porter succumbed to a combination of fentanyl and heroin. No charges were filed in Porter’s death, but surveillance video showed he was dead for more than 15 hours before discovery.
If you or a loved one has been mistreated in prison we can help. We file federal civil rights lawsuits against correctional facilities to expose misconduct, medical neglect, and other atrocities. You may also be entitled to financial compensation. CALL US 866.836.4684 or Connect Online to learn your rights.