Thirty-two-year-old drug addict David Stojcevski went into a Detroit-area jail to serve a 30-day sentence instead of paying a careless-driving fine.
After just 16 days he was dead — 50 pounds lighter and lying naked on the cell's stone floor after suffering a an "excruciatingly painful and slow" withdrawal from his addiction medication, according to a lawsuit filed by his brother.
Stojcevski's cell in the Macomb County Jail was monitored 24 hours a day by a surveillance camera, and footage published by NBC station WDIV showed him naked, appearing to convulse and hallucinate in his final hours on June 27, 2014.
Family lawyer Robert Ihrie said Thursday that jail officials knew about Stojcevski's addiction and medication, but that his condition was "essentially ignored" while in custody. Stojcevski's family is "heartbroken," the lawyer said.
"They know their son had made some mistakes in judgment over the years but ... never in their wildest imaginations did they ever think that their son would be carried out essentially in a body bag," Ihrie told NBC News.
An autopsy released by the family's attorney concluded the cause of Stojcevski's death was "acute withdrawal from chronic benzodiazepine, methadone and opiate medications."
The Macomb County Sheriff's Office said Friday that it had no comment. The county’s attorney told NBC station WDIV that the staff did what was legally required of them and that the lawsuit "lacks legal merit."
Stojcevski's family is now suing the county, several named officials, and health contractor Correct Care Solutions for what they said was "reckless indifference" with regard to Stojcevski's treatment.
The suit, filed March 18 this year, alleges Stojcevski was not given medications prescribed to him before he was incarcerated, including methadone — used to treat opiate withdrawals — and anti-anxiety medication.
Stojcevski was jailed for 30 days on June 11, 2014 instead of paying a $772 fine for failing to appear in court for a careless driving charge, according to the lawsuit documents.
His brother, Vladimir Stojcevski, was also sentenced to 30 days instead of paying a $655 fine for failing to appear for a charge of driving without a licence, the documents said. Vladimir Stojcevski also required medical treatment and was transferred to the hospital 12 days later.