ST. LOUIS – In December, FOX 2 showed you a police report revealing a drug overdose death no one seemed to know about. Just a few weeks later, drugs apparently kept pouring into the jail leading to more medical emergencies. On Dec. 4, you could see the urgency from first responders and hear it through their shouts about three people down.
FOX 2 spoke with all three inmates by phone. They’re back in jail after being released from the hospital. Each of them said they’d stopped breathing and were brought back to life.
One of the inmates said he thought he was taking a sleeping pill and that one of the corrections officers involved no longer works there. The city said it could not talk about personnel issues, but Alderwoman Cara Spencer said we need answers.
“Folks that are experiencing drug addictions, whether they are incarcerated or otherwise, we need to do our due diligence to make sure, especially those in our custody are protected.”
She’s calling a special investigative hearing in next Tuesday’s Health and Human Services Committee. She also wants to know why we don’t know more about former inmate Kevin Cavins, who died while in detox inside the St. Louis Justice Center in Nov. 2020.
“It’s very alarming to know we had a fatality in one of our jail facilities and I certainly wasn’t made aware,” Spencer said.
A police report on Cavins’ death says he was in custody for a probation violation, that he had vomited in the bathroom, and a correctional officer gave him cleaning supplies to clean up.
The report says later, “An officer performed a well-being check of the inmates in tank #9 by utilizing – surveillance cameras” and “a correctional officer advised she observed (Cavins’) chest rise and fall on camera.”
Attorney Mark Pedroli says, “It’s impossible. A welfare check has to be done in person and it wasn’t done in this instance.”
According to the report, 11 minutes after the surveillance camera welfare check, a cleaning crew was allowed to enter the holding tank and noticed Cavins was not breathing. He later died. Pedroli says the city has so far denied family the video, which he says they need to hold the jail accountable.
“These are in a sense medical records – somebody having a medical emergency on film. This should be disclosed,” Pedroli said.
While Pedroli waits for the video, Alderwoman Spencer hopes to get answers from jail staff in her hearing next week.