Death by Lockup

Incompetent incarceration


David Stojcevski's punishment was supposed to just be a month in jail. But after 17 days behind bars in Macomb County, Michigan, for not paying his parking fines, the 32-year-old succumbed to a toxic combination of drug withdrawal and institutional neglect. He died, naked and alone, in his cell—his demise immortalized on 24/7 surveillance footage.

Stojcevski was a drug addict; at the time of his incarceration, he was on several medications to help him cope. But once in jail, he was allegedly deprived of the medicine he needed, and soon began manifesting telltale signs of withdrawal, including erratic behavior.

Jail officials misdiagnosed his symptoms, thinking that he was psychotic. They placed him in a cell with other inmates deemed mentally ill, and stripped him naked so that he couldn't hurt himself. The cell—a brightly lit room, even at night—was supposedly monitored around the clock by security personnel. But if Macomb County officials were watching, they either didn't understand Stojcevski's medical situation or didn't care.

Stojcevski's cellmates were eventually transferred to other rooms after he started fighting with them. He continued these "fights" even after the other inmates were gone, a clear sign of hallucination. In subsequent days, Stojcevski stopped eating, quickly losing 50 pounds, and eventually died.

The FBI is looking into the matter, and Stojcevski's family is suing the county. A Macomb County lawyer told WDIV- TV that the case "lacks legal merit."