ST. LOUIS – An autopsy reveals a man found dead at the St. Louis City Justice Center in August died due to a lack of insulin and dehydration.
Carlton Bernard of Jennings was found dead on the morning of Aug. 20. He was 32.
According to court records, Bernard had been locked up since June on a third-degree assault charge.
The St. Louis Medical Examiner’s Office conducted the autopsy the following day, finding no evidence of wrongdoing and no fractures or contusions.
“St. Louis City jail failed to treat my son Cartlon’s diabetes. The jail and medical staff knew Carlton had diabetes, but without treatment, he suffered, fell into a diabetic coma, and died,” Shantae Winston, Bernard’s mother, said in a statement.
“They left my son in that cell to die. Carlton didn’t deserve this. He was only 32 years old and had his whole life in front of him. Learning Carlton’s death was completely preventable brings pain. I will never hear his voice again because of their actions. I’m hurt and angry.”
Bernard is the third inmate to die at the Justice Center in the last six-plus weeks. Terrance Smith, 55, was found dead on Aug. 30, and Juwon Carter, 44, suffered an unspecified medical emergency and died on Sept. 30.
Two days after Bernard’s death, inmates took a 73-year-old corrections officer hostage. Following a two-hour standoff, SWAT members were able to rescue the officer. At the time, jail officials said the attacking inmates were known troublemakers.
Attorney Mark Pedroli, who represents Bernard’s family, is demanding full transparency and accountability from the city.
“I’m confident all of St. Louis will stand up for Carlton, his mom, and his family. Carlton’s rights are secured by the constitution, as are all of our rights,” he said. “This ongoing pattern of preventable deaths must be addressed as an emergency. We demand full transparency, accountability, justice, and action on behalf of Carlton’s family and all other families affected.”
Employees at the Justice Center hung up when we called. One person who works at the facility, who asked not to go on camera, said he’s heard the responses to medical emergencies are a problem.
“A lot of times, whenever they have a medical emergency with an inmate, a lot of the time they do not take them to the hospital or get them the help that they need because they can’t afford to send an officer with them to the hospital,” the employee said.
Tracy Stanton of the Freedom Community Center is appalled.
“The fact that people are dying across the street from where our city hall is,” she said.
Her group advocates for the proper treatment of inmates, working closely with the Detention Facility Oversight Board. A week ago, they held a rally outside the Justice Center demanding proper care.
“The fact that we have still not been able to get inside of the facility and do those investigations, things are still happening and people are steadily dying.” Stanton said.
She believes nine people have died in the city jail in the last two years, saying the Justice Center won’t allow elected officials in the facility to investigate, nor provide necessary data. Stanton says they’ve had to collect data through an entry point court watch program.
The anonymous Justice Center employee said others have voiced their concerns about staffing.
“Someone was really, really sick and really needed to go to the hospital, but they didn’t call an ambulance because they were understaffed. (The inmated) ended up dying,” they said.
Meanwhile, the oversight board is concluding necessary training to get inside the Justice Center by the end of the month. Mayor Tishaura Jones said she’s hiring a healthcare provider to take a position as the chief medical officer at the Justice Center.
But Stanton says until real solutions are found, “It’s smoke and mirrors around the trainings that need to take place.”