Family Of Woman Who Died While Detoxing In Jail Files Lawsuit

By Victoria Kim 09/13/18

Prosecutors declined to charge the deputies involved with the case so the family decided to take another route to justice. 

Kelly Coltrane
Kelly Coltrane Photo via YouTube

Following a year-long probe, Nevada investigators have decided that the deputies involved in a jail inmate’s July 2017 death should be criminally charged for the way they handled a woman who was in medical distress.

The Mineral County deputies were aware of the inmate’s condition, according to the 300-page report. Kelly Coltrain, 27, who was jailed for outstanding traffic tickets, had informed jail staff that she was dependent on drugs and suffered seizures when she went through withdrawals, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

Coltrain was visiting Nevada from Austin, Texas to celebrate her grandmother’s 75th birthday. But instead of spending time with her family, she spent four days in Mineral County Jail until she died in her cell on July 23, 2017.

According to investigators, who produced a 300-page report on Coltrain’s death, jail staff violated multiple policies when they denied Coltrain medical care. Based on Coltrain’s history of seizures, jail staff should have cleared her with a doctor before keeping her in jail; and as she suffered withdrawals, they should have been monitoring her vitals.

Instead, when Coltrain asked that she be taken to the hospital, which is about a two-minute walk across the street from the jail, according to the report, Deputy Ray Gulcynski told her, “Unfortunately, since you’re DT’ing (referring to the detoxification process), I’m not going to take you over to the hospital right now just to get your fix. That’s not the way detention works, unfortunately. You are incarcerated with us, so… you don’t get to go to the hospital when you want. When we feel that your life is at risk… then you will go.”

Surveillance video of Coltrain’s jail cell shows her being ordered to clean up her own vomit with a mop. Less than an hour later, she was dead, and remained in her cell for more than six hours before a deputy noticed her lifeless body. He did not try to revive her or call for help, and Coltrain was left in her cell until the morning, when state officials arrived at the jail to investigate.

Investigators with the Nevada Division of Investigation recommended that the deputies involved face criminal charges, but Lyon County, where the case was forwarded, refused to prosecute.

“The review of the case, in our opinion, did not establish any willful or malicious acts by jail staff that would justify the filing of charges under the requirements of the statute,” said Lyon County District Attorney Stephen Rye.

Coltrain’s family, however, believes her death was preventable. “(Jail staff) knew Kelly Coltrain had lain for days at the jail, in bed, buried beneath blankets, vomiting multiple times, refusing meals, trembling, shaking, and rarely moving. Defendants knew Kelly Coltrain was in medical distress,” according to a federal lawsuit filed by the family last week.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr