Jailers Found Not Responsible For Death Of Addict Who Begged For IV In Jail

By Victoria Kim 11/02/15

Tyler Tabor died of dehydration just days after being taken into custody.

Tyler Tabor
Tyler Tabor's arrest photo. Photo via

Tyler Tabor had disclosed to a jail nurse that he was a heroin addict when he arrived at the Adams County Sheriff’s Detention Facility in Brighton, Colo. on May 14. A few days later, he was dead.

The district attorney’s recent determination, that “there is not sufficient evidence to prove that anyone caused the death of Tyler Tabor by conduct amounting to criminal negligence,” came in an 11-page report, detailing the events leading up to his death. But his family sees it differently. “They killed him, that’s how I feel,” his widow, Bridget, told the Washington Post.

“Tyler knew his own body better than anybody else. He knew that something was wrong the night before he died. He was asking for an IV, and they told him ‘not unless it’s necessary,’” she said. “That IV would have saved his life.”

Tabor’s condition had progressed from bad to worse in jail. After two days, he was unable to stand, according to the report released by the district attorney for Adams and Broomfield counties, Dave Young. His hands appeared to be cramping, “unable to hold his medications, and some or all of them” fell to the floor. He asked the nurse for intravenous (IV) therapy, and she told him that “they try not to use the IV’s unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

By May 17, Tabor was dead. By the time an ambulance was called, it was too late. The official cause of death was dehydration “due to withdrawal from a controlled substance (heroin).”

The DA determined that the jail staff followed appropriate protocol to address Tabor’s condition. He was put on opiate withdrawal protocol—Gatorade, Pepto Bismol, painkillers and anti-nausea pills—once he disclosed his heroin dependence, and “kept under reasonable observation” by medical staff.

According to the report, Tabor was "also prescribed an optional medication, buprenorphine, if needed." Still, the family is ready to sue. Tabor’s father has hired an attorney and spoke to the Denver Post about a potential lawsuit. “I’m not the type of person to go and sue somebody, but at this point, whatever happens, happens.”

This is a sad situation that could have been avoided but sadly, it is not unique. The FBI is reviewing the death of David Stojcevski, who died in a Michigan jail in June 2014, where he was serving a 30-day sentence for failing to pay a $772 traffic ticket. He suffered 17 days of benzodiazepine withdrawal and lost 50 pounds before he died.

According to his family’s wrongful death lawsuit filed against Macomb County, he was “twitching on the floor” and begging for “necessary medical care and treatment” while deputies watched him under 24-hour video surveillance.

Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan called on the Justice Department to investigate Stojcevski’s death.

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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