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Inmate died of leukemia after pleading for help, federal lawsuit claims

It alleges that a nurse at the St. Louis County jail accused Lamar Catchings, 20, of being a "faker."

A 20-year-old in a St. Louis County jail last year died of survivable leukemia after pleading for help from staffers who failed to let him see a doctor, a federal lawsuit claims.

The civil rights suit against the county and several jail staffers was filed by the Tashonda Troupe, the mother of the deceased Lamar Catchings.

Attorneys for St. Louis County did not respond Saturday for a request for its response.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of Missouri claims that after Catchings was jailed on April 17, 2018, his health deteriorated, and he died Feb. 28, 2019. The filing did not say what Catchings was accused of doing.

An autopsy determined he died from a form of leukemia that has a survival rate of about 90 percent, the lawsuit states.

The filing cites Yale University oncologist Steven Gore on the mortality of acute promyelocytic leukemia, believed to have killed Catchings, who said death from the disease was "unconscionable" and "should never happen," the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.

Catchings' death came after two other high-profile deaths in 2019 at St. Louis County’s Buzz Westfall Justice Center. There were two more before the year was up, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claims the county's jail health care system is in disarray and without proper medical supervision by registered nurses and doctors.

"Defendant St. Louis County was well-aware of the serious and obvious deficiencies with respect to its jail policies and training of jail staff, including policies and training regarding the provision of health services and medical care to its detainees," it stated.

Lamar Catchings.
Lamar Catchings.Courtesy Tashonda Troupe

At a vigil in August 2019 for those who had died at the facility, Troupe said, "They all had treatable illnesses. All they had to do was get medical care that they asked for, and they would be with their families today."

In February 2019, Catchings was seen by nurses three times for several minutes after asking for help, vomiting and losing his ability to walk, the lawsuit claims, alleging that two days before his death, one nurse said, "There is nothing wrong with him. He is a [expletive] faker."

Another jail staffer allegedly told Catchings as his health deteriorated to "grow up."

The lawsuit claims staffers at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center acknowledged he was ill because they gave him Tylenol, took food to him and and carried him or wheeled him around in a wheelchair.

His body, with rigormortis developing, was discovered the day after he died, the lawsuit said.

"Mr. Catchings ultimately died alone in his cell and from a condition that the St. Louis County Medical Examiner would later report to have been completely diagnosable through a routine blood panel administered by the jail," it said.