A Massachusetts woman suffering from alcohol poisoning was left alone in her cell for an hour before the police decided to call an ambulance. By that time, she was no longer breathing, and died soon thereafter.
Alyssa Brame, a 31-year-old woman, was arrested on the night of January 12 after offering to perform a sex act on an officer in exchange for money. Lowell police took her to the station, where they realized that she was too drunk to sign the necessary paperwork. She was placed in a cell while police debated whether or not she needed medical attention.
Department procedure stipulates that police should check on suspects every 30 minutes. But Brame was left to her own devices for almost an hour, according to a recently released report that accused police of negligence.
One station personnel, Kevin Lombard, believed Brame needed medical attention, but was warned not to call an ambulance.
After leaving Brame alone for 56 straight minutes, Lombard checked on her again and realized she was no longer breathing.
A mix-up then occurred: Lombard thought another officer had gone to call the hospital, but the other officer believed Lombard had already done the same. It was another 15 minutes before the station realized that no one had actually called for an ambulance.
When Brame finally reached the hospital, she was pronounced dead of alcohol poisoning.
This was not the woman’s first brush with alcoholism or the law. She had been previously arrested 10 other times by Lowell police, and 9 of those times had involved drinking.
A report found that police made several key procedural errors–including leaving Brame alone for an hour–but none that “warranted criminal charges.”
Dr. Renee Robinson, Chief Medical Examiner, said a faster intervention might have saved Brame’s life.
Some police wondered whether it was appropriate to arrest Brame in the first place, given how drunk she was, according to The Lowell Sun.
Tom Nolan, a criminal justice expert interviewed by a local news channel, agreed.
“It’s carelessness, it’s apathy, it’s lack of responsibility and attention to detail,” he said in a statement. “Had proper procedures been followed in this situation, in all likelihood, she’d still be alive today.”