The District Attorney's office in Middlesex County, Massachusetts ruled that no criminal charges should be filed in the death of Alyssa Brame, who was arrested on January 12 for allegedly offering to perform a sex act of some kind for $40 and died of alcohol poisoning in a jail cell. The five (5!) officers who were on the scene at her arrest claimed she did not appear visibly overly intoxicated, but by the time she was taken to the police station she couldn't walk on her own, and cops there debated whether she was too drunk to be accused of offering sex for money. Via the Lowell Sun:
As that debate continued, only detention attendant Kevin Lombard asked whether someone should call an ambulance.
"Civilian Attendant Lombard did not feel that he was permitted to contact 911 for medical assistance himself," District Attorney Marian Ryan wrote in the report.
The report says a sergeant told Lombard no. Another commander told Lombard to simply "let her lay down."
According to Ryan's investigation, "police personnel determined that this was another one of those occasions where Ms. Brame was intoxicated and needed to sleep it off."
The DA report found that putting an unconscious person in a cell, as had been done to Brame, was against department policy, as was not checking on her every thirty minutes. It had been nearly an hour since police last checked on her when she was found dead. The third policy violation had to do with the personnel dealing with Brame not being CPR-certified.
The medical examiner ruled the death an accident, but noted it may have been possible to save Brame's life if there had been a medical intervention earlier. The DA report says Brane, 31, had been in police custody ten times before, nine of those while intoxicated. It also mentioned police were aware the city hospital believed they were sending too many intoxicated prisoners over. It's impossible to know whether Brane would have survived alcohol poisoning absent her encounter with police, but being thrown in a cage for making a harmless offer, in an environment where a concerned person would feel they weren't permitted to call 911 for assistance, certainly didn't help.
A police board of inquiry is now investigating the case.