CLAYTON, Mo. — It’s been seven years since an inmate died at the St. Louis County Justice Center in 2015. His mother filed a lawsuit alleging her son Drexel Starks asked and was denied medical care for 29 hours then was found dehydrated, shackled, and dead.
The civil lawsuit over Drexel’s death is being handled by Clayton lawyer Mark Pedroli.
“As everyone knows, a few years later in 2019, five people died all at once and our question is, looking back at 2015, could these deaths in 2019 have been prevented had they taken the death seriously?” said Pedroli.
Pedroli said St. Louis County will not provide a report that’s required under its own policy called an MMR – Morbidity and Mortality Review. Pedroli said the County won’t provide the interviews that would lead up to the full MMR.
“These are recorded interviews. They sit you down. They put a tape recorder there, they tape it, and they keep the tapes,” said Pedroli. “In this case, the tapes are gone, destroyed. The mom is obviously concerned. She thinks this was swept under the carpet. She thinks they got rid of the evidence because wasn’t good for them.”
A federal judge seems concerned, writing in a June 21 memo and order.
“The county’s conduct, in this case, has been at best lackadaisical and careless, and at worst unscrupulous and dishonest,”said Judge Ronnie White.
White criticized the county’s lawyer saying:
“…stonewalled the timely progression of discovery in an apparent attempt to avoid admitting that crucial documents were missing.”
The St. Louis County Executive’s Office said it cannot comment on pending litigation, but says the case was re-assigned to a different attorney, and the attorney according to the judge is no longer employed in the County Counselor’s office.
The judge said in his memo and order that he was one stroke of a pen away from entering a default judgment against St. Louis County.