Prisons

22-Year-Old Jailed for Pot Possession Dies While Guards Ignore His Pleas for Help

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A mother has finally obtained video footage proving that her 22-year-old son died when guards in a Snohomish County, Washington jail ignored his desperate pleas for help. The victim, Michael Saffioti, was serving time after missing a court date for a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. To make the awful story even worse, Saffioti's mother alleges that her son was killed by a severe allergic reaction to oatmeal that prison officials erroneously told him was safe to eat and then later covered up. She has spent the past year fighting with the jail to obtain footage that might help explain his death.  

Michael Saffioti/Saffioti family

The incident began in July of last year. Saffioti turned himself in to the authorities in order to be "held accountable for his legal issues" and was promptly thrown behind bars. He died less than 24 hours later.

As described by KIRO TV:

Around 5:46, a group of inmates arrived to serve breakfast and men began lining up. While others sat to eat, the camera first captured Saffioti at the guard's desk, holding his tray. Saffioti suffered from extreme dairy allergies and took regular pains to protect himself.

The video shows Saffioti apparently discussing his food [and whether it contained dairy] with the guard, servers and fellow inmates. Eventually, he took a few bites. Within a few minutes, Saffioti was back at the guard desk, using his inhaler. According to the legal claim, he asked to see a nurse. Instead, he was sent to his cell.

Over the next half hour, the video shows other inmates looking in Saffioti's cell as he jumped up and down. The legal claim says he pressed his call button and was ignored.

A fellow inmate who witnessed the incident claimed that a corrections officer took Saffioti's inhaler away and accused him of "faking" his sickness. 

KIRO TV continued:

About 35 minutes after he ate, a guard found Saffioti unconscious in his cell. The guard called for help and Saffioti was dragged him out.

Nurses arrived and performed CPR. Everett firefighters took over and rushed Saffioti to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a half hour later.

Rose Saffioti, Michael's mother, has insisted that the jail was negligent in caring for her son's health needs. According to Rose and Cheryl Snow, the attorney representing his case, Michael was always vigilant about checking his food and would have told the guards about his allergies. Additionally, the prison had his medical condition on file and was supposed to place him in a separate medical unit.

"Our theory is that they absolutely knew about Michael's medical needs," Cheryl Snow told KIRO TV.

However, when Saffioti's mother stated her belief that the guards' negligence caused her son's death last year, the jail retorted that it had not. In a report compiled by the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit, they claimed that Michael died from bronchial asthma rather than an allergic reaction. Consequently, county prosecutors decided not to press criminal charges against any guards.

Once Michael's mother filed a request for video footage of her son's death though, jail officials engaged in an intentional cover-up. First, officials denied the existence of any footage. When his mother discovered that this wasn't true, officials edited out incriminating portions of the video.

The full video, which confirms much of what inmate witnesses told investigators in interviews last year, is finally available.  

Saffioti's mother, who has filed suit against the county for $10 million, is unfortunately not alone. Over the past three years, eight inmates have died in Snohomish County Jail.

Just four months after Michael's death, Washington state legalized recreational marijuana.

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  1. FUCK. Just what I needed, another kick in the balls…

  2. Another one from Dunphy’s neighborhood. Remember this the next time he starts popping off about how Washington is some kind of libertopia and how professional his brothers are.

  3. The incident began in July of last year. Saffioti turned himself in to the authorities in order to be “held accountable for his legal issues” and was promptly thrown behind bars. He died less than 24 hours later.

    Holy Jesus. Misdemeanor possession. For a substance, that’s now legal in the state.

    1. Yup.

      Just four months after Michael’s death, Washington state legalized recreational marijuana.

      So. Fucking. Unnecessary.

      1. It’s a good thing I have a Lagunitas in hand. It’s after 5pm, right?

        1. Almost. I’m going to crack one soon. But I have to make myself a Reuben first.

          1. P.S. Hawaii booked. I had a hard time pulling the trigger with so many options…

            1. Where did you end up deciding on?

              1. Wailea for 5 days at the Grand Wailea, Kaanapali for 4 days at the Westin.
                Activities will include snorkeling at molokini, a bike ride down Haleakala, and a day trip to Hana. If I have time and the flights are still cheap, I’m going to head over to the Big Island for a day to check out Hawaii Volcanos National Park. They have a mickey mouse prop plane airline that will fly between the islands for appox $50pp, so If it is still in business next month, I might try to make it happen…

                1. The squirrels ate the best link:
                  http://www.bikemaui.com
                  Biking (coasting) 18 miles downhill at a 5 percent grade from 10,000ft to sea level.

                2. You should check out Little Beach while you’re on Maui. Dunphy and jesse.in.mb approved.

                  Big Beach is just south of it. Great stretch of sand with nice cliffs at one end and rolling green hills down the side and Little Beach is clothing optional on the other side of the cliffs. Straight families to the south, gays to the north.

                  1. Were you referencing the no mans land between Abalone Cove and PBC in that post?

                    As far as nude beaches go, my wife and I will be visiting the South Pacific in a few years for such endeavors. There was substantial teeth pulling to get her to go topless in Bora Bora on the honeymoon…

                    1. Yeah, Smuggler’s Cove. I was hiking at the Abalone Cove reserve and we dropped in there. The tide and lighting were right that sunlight shone through the waves that crashed through the sea caves. Shame I had to wear pants though.

                    2. Nature doesn’t really give me a boner. I have crossed the channels into those caves in 8 foot seas, though. Pretty scary stuff…

                3. Nice; I’m no Maui fan but it does have Molokini and Hana, and the bike tour seems fun. Do lots of snorkeling! The place I stayed in Maui had its own beach and some nice rock outcroppings over to the right side where I could do deep snorkel dives in what was essentially a gigantic swimming pool, the water was so clear.

                  1. The Grand Wailea has free scuba lessons (limited to 1 per person per day) and a very nice reef offshore reef that is within “turtle town” city limits.

                    I would have done Oahu too, but the Hawaiian Airlines winter sale pretty much determined my trip.

                    I had a potential hookup to go to Niihau, but it fell through. It would have been a once in a lifetime. Oh well…

                    1. Oh man, Niihau would be amazing. An essentially private Hawaiian island? Yes please. Kahoolawe would also be interesting, just because it was a penal colony and totally barren. Plus, some prisoners managed to swim to Maui from it, which is…impressive.

                    2. You can go to Kahoolawe, but it involves picking up trash for 12 hours. Not my idea of vacation.

                    3. You guys are really saddened by this tragedy. My heart goes out to you all.

                    4. I know. I’m a dick.

                    5. Would the two of you mind if the rest of us step out for a smoke?

  4. Rose Saffioti, Michael’s mother, has insisted that the jail was negligent in caring for her son’s health needs.

    By the way, this isn’t the first time this has happened in this area. I remember right after I first moved here in the early 90s there was a story in a local jail about how an inmate died from apendicitis or something, and the story was a god-awful Kafka-esque litany of bureaucratic fuck ups, while the man writhed in pain in his jail cell.

    These are the people that want to run your healthcare.

    1. Dude, the idea of having an obscure (relatively) medical emergency arise in prison–such as appendicitis–is terrifying. Because you know the thug guards have absolutely no training to diagnose appendicitis symptoms, for instance, which can be very obscure in its symptoms (I know; when I got it when I was a kid, I just thought I had a stomach ache). Combine that with using “suck it up” and “you’re faking your symptoms” as punishment, and you have multiple recipes for disaster.

      1. I’ve seen cops confuse diabetic emergencies with intoxication. More than once.

        1. Yes. And epileptic seizures. I knew someone whose father was epileptic. He had a seizure while driving one time and actually crashed into a house near their house. The cops who got there right away dragged him out of the car and were going to beat the shit out of him until a neighbor who knew them ran out screaming “he’s epileptic! He’s having a seizure!”

          The cops just make everything better, don’t they?

          1. Just like bacon.

            Heeeyyy, wait a minute….

          2. Why is beating someone a proper reaction to them being drunk?

            1. “Oh, he’s an epileptic. Well, that makes everything different.”

        2. cops are morons, it’s self evident.

          All you have to do is think about who would want to be a cop? What kind of hurdles are in place to becoming a cop? Who becomes a cop?

          THey are all fucking thug morons with the rarest of exceptions.

  5. In a report compiled by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit, they claimed that Michael died from bronchial asthma rather than an allergic reaction

    Oh fuck here it is again! He died from lack of oxygen to the brain! Yes, Major Crimes unit, we ALL die from lack of oxygen to the brain.

    1. Of course he died from bronchial asthma. Although bronchial asthma isn’t usually deadly . . . unless you are having an allergic reaction. Then it’ll kill you right quick.
      Milk protien — IgE — Histamine release — caplllary leakage — small airway swelling — death, if you want it all laid out plain.
      “It was blood loss that killed him, the Sheriff said, not the bullet holes my officer put in him.”

  6. In a report compiled by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit…

    Any guesses as to what county official is responsible for the Snohomish County Jail?

  7. In totally unrelated news, someone was able to 3D print a working M1911. All metal printing, baby.

    Linkie

    1. Doh, thought I had scooped it in the other thread. It looks pretty…

    2. From the comments:

      Let me know when someone 3D prints an attack helicopter or an armored tank division.

      I lol’d.

    3. IN the old days, a 3d printed metal anything was done with a CNC machine.

  8. BUT REMEMBER, FOLKS: it’s not the needlessly draconian legal code; it’s not the immediacy with which courts remand arrestees to jail. It’s not the atmosphere of sociopathy with which cops and guards alike are encouraged to treat inmates, nor the fact that, absent a DOJ investigation, little light is shed on their conduct. It’s not the misguided incentives, unionized job security, or their insular behavior in circling the wagons whenever any complaint makes headlines.

    No, it’s because prisons are privatized.

    /proglogic

  9. Isolated incident, nothing to see here, move along…

  10. Dweebston found the right word – “sociopathy.”

    1. If the chief’s son was in this situation and complained that he may have had a dangerous allergic reaction, do you believe for an instant they would have shoved him into his cell and left him to suffer?

      For that matter, do you think the chief’s son would be in the situation to begin with? Assuming he got arrested at all, Dad would arrange to have a well-connected lawyer show up at the first hearing and arrange for a dismissal, and the guy probably wouldn’t even have to show up. If he missed his court date, Dad would arrange a quick court appearance where he’d apologize and, no problem, get the dismissal.

      And if he ended up in jail, there’d be signs on all the walls in 100-point font saying that any guard who ignored the son’s dietary needs would go to jail himself.

    2. If the chief’s son was in this situation and complained that he may have had a dangerous allergic reaction, do you believe for an instant they would have shoved him into his cell and left him to suffer?

      For that matter, do you think the chief’s son would be in the situation to begin with? Assuming he got arrested at all, Dad would arrange to have a well-connected lawyer show up at the first hearing and arrange for a dismissal, and the guy probably wouldn’t even have to show up. If he missed his court date, Dad would arrange a quick court appearance where he’d apologize and, no problem, get the dismissal.

      And if he ended up in jail, there’d be signs on all the walls in 100-point font saying that any guard who ignored the son’s dietary needs would go to jail himself.

      1. what the &^%$?

        1. The Server Squirrels hate numbers divisible by three.

          1. Which numbers aren’t?

  11. This is terribly sad and disturbing.

    Fucking assholes those guys. They can come up with all the excuses they want but that kid’s death is on them.

  12. I hope she gets $100 million, and the guards are executed.

    Then again, I also hope that I get a unicorn someday. Or at least something like a Ironman suit. Just cause that looks like it’d be fun to blow shit up in.

    1. I’m fine with hanging the guards, but Momma doesn’t deserve a penny. If I’m reading the article right, she’s the one who turned him in to the cops in the first place.

  13. How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

    With some G-d damn humility. Rest in peace, Michael.

  14. They’re just working cops doing their job. We need lawsuit reform to protect them from these frivolous grievances.

    1. Dweebston|11.7.13 @ 9:08PM|#

      BUT REMEMBER, FOLKS: it’s not the needlessly draconian legal code; it’s not the immediacy with which courts remand arrestees to jail. It’s not the atmosphere of sociopathy with which cops and guards alike are encouraged to treat inmates, nor the fact that, absent a DOJ investigation, little light is shed on their conduct. It’s not the misguided incentives, unionized job security, or their insular behavior in circling the wagons whenever any complaint makes headlines.

      No, it’s because prisons are privatized.

      /proglogic

  15. That’s not enough, Tony.
    The cops need to be compensated for the trauma of having somebody die in jail.

    1. What kind of omelet do you like? Three eggs, two dozen eggs. No matter. The omelet is what is important.
      Sit down to breakfast with Tony, and you’ll discover why omelets are so grrrrrreat!

  16. Murder 2 at the least, on everyone involved.

  17. For some folks, milk is much more harmful than marijuana. Marijuana, it does the body good…or…This is your lungs, on milk. Or how about a Marijuana moustache ad campaign.

  18. Never invite The Man into your life. You place your life in the hands of people who don’t have your best interests in mind.

    Or worse.

  19. He died of asthma, and taking his inhaler away had nothing to do with that, right?

    All procedures were duly followed, and if they weren’t, the guards’ negligence if any was in good faith.

  20. Once again, idiot police think their job is a game. Time for the free market to fire their asses and their corrupt system entirely.

  21. Their response to this tragedy (instead of giving a crap about this kid or why we have so many people in jail)….is to hire more people and specialty staff to “prevent” this from happening….

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