After a Michigan man was arrested for failing to pay a $772 fine stemming from a petty traffic violation, a court ordered him to spend a month in the Macomb County jail.
32-year-old David Stojcevski, of Roseville, spent the last 17 days of his life in a cell where he was denied clothing, lost 50 pounds, and suffered convulsions before dieing in agony from a combination of untreated drug withdrawal and neglect.
Stojcevski was under self-harm watch after being misdiagnosised with mental problems where jail officials were supposed to watch him constantly. The mans incarceration was entirely captured on jail surveillance footage which exhibits a disturbing documentation of the events.
According to a medical expert, Stojcevski was a drug addict that was taking Methadone, Xanax, and Klonopin to treat his addiction. Without access to the prescriptions however, the man quickly went into withdrawal which caused him to behave irrationally.
Jail officials reportedly ignored the obvious symptoms and instead placed Stojcevski in a cell for the mentally unstable where he was stripped naked and forced to endure.
His clothing was taken as part of a jail policy that prevents those who may pose a risk to themselves from having access to things like a shirt or shoe laces because they may try to hang themselves.
At one point, Stojcevski reportedly began fighting with another naked inmate, who was then moved out of the cell, before later reenacting the fight alone – a clear sign of hallucination, medical experts say.
On his last day of life, the man refused to touch his food and was too weak to get up from the floor. He was not a violent man or a danger to the public. He was a man whose story illustrates that a traffic ticket can be a death sentence.
Drugs Stojcevski was taking like Xanax and Klonopinas are called benzodiazepines. These drugs are used to treat a myriad of panic and anxiety disorders – as well as seizures – and are particularly dangerous because the abrupt end of their extended use can result in death.
Psychology Today points out that “withdrawal from extended use of benzodiaepines can kill:”
Whether Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), Valium (diazepam) or other variations, long term use of benzodiazepines requires medical supervision to be completed successfully with minimal side-effects and risk to the patient. Normally, the withdrawal process is managed by slowly reducing the dose and transferring the patient from a slow acting, to a long acting, form of the drug. Still, full resolution of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can take up to 6 months or even longer.
Medical experts say Stojcevski should have been given adequate medical treatment at the first sign of drug withdrawal and his family is suing Macomb County.
A lawyer for the county claims the suit “lacks legal merit” however, and said he expects the family to lose when the case goes to trial as officials have no plans to settle.
An excellent news report that details Stojcevski’s story in more depth and includes surveillance footage from inside his jail cell can be viewed below: