The mother of an inmate who died last year at the Montgomery County Jail is suing the county, jail personnel and police officers for alleged negligence as an investigation into the death continues.
Martha McConville of Delaware County accuses two New York state troopers and four county corrections officers, as well as the jail administrator and county sheriff, of failing to provide adequate medical care after arresting her son, Kenneth McConville. The 37-year-old died hours after being placed in the jail on May 9, 2014, of an apparent overdose of alcohol and oxycodone.
According to the complaint, McConville was arrested on an unspecified charge on the evening of May 9. He was found dead in a holding cell about four hours after arriving at the Montgomery County Corrections Facility, though the exact time of death is disputed.
An autopsy revealed that he had suffered cardiorespiratory arrest consistent with an overdose of alcohol and oxycodone. The complaint alleges that he swallowed “a toxic amount” of the pills during his arrest, and previously been drinking heavily.
The troopers who handled his arrest and admission into the jail are accused of ignoring the signs of a potentially fatal overdose.
McConville’s death was also the subject of investigations by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Police and the state Commission of Correction.
State Police Investigator Wayne Mattice said last week that the state police investigation was closed within a week or two of McConville’s death, after an autopsy was conducted. While he could not give any details of the investigation while the lawsuit is pending, he said, “in our eyes, there was nothing criminal” by the troopers involved.
The investigation by the Commission of Correction is still open, according to a spokesman.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
According to the civil action complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in August by attorney Elmer Robert Keach III, McConville was in the custody of state police for about three hours after his arrest, during which time he was “exhibiting symptoms associated with severe intoxication and a drug overdose.”
The complaint alleges that McConville asked repeatedly to go to the hospital while being processed at the state police barracks in Fonda and was denied.
The suit further alleges that arresting officers never administered a breathalyzer test, which would likely have shown that he was at risk of alcohol poisoning.
“It was obvious that Mr. McConville needed to be medically evaluated given his apparent intoxication, and given the toxic level of oxycodone that was metabolizing in his system,” the complaint states.
After McConville was transported to the jail at about 11:30 p.m., the complaint says the neglect of his condition continued. He was eventually placed in a holding cell without constant supervision, where he was found dead about four hours later.
“Mr. McConville was never sent to the hospital, never evaluated by medical staff, and his medical condition was never meaningfully evaluated,” the complaint states. “Rather, for the next several hours, corrections staff merely looked into the window of his holding cell, assuming that he was asleep.”
The suit seeks both compensatory damages for the pain and suffering caused by his death as well as punitive damages against the individual defendants, excluding Montgomery County, for their alleged “cruel and uncivilized conduct.”
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