The mother and son of deceased California resident Angela Slack, who died at the hospital less than a week after being arrested, are suing Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles. The police department is calling the incident an “in-custody suicide attempt.”
Virginia Wheeler and Jonathan Goetz filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court this month on behalf of Slack, who was 40 years old at the time of her death. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages stemming from allegations of wrongful death, negligence, failure to provide medical care in police custody, deprivation of life without due process, and interference with the parent-child relationship. A spokesperson from the City Attorney’s Office failed to provide comment.
According to the lawsuit, Slack was arrested for prostitution charges in March 2015. Once taken into custody, she was left in a holding area in the LAPD’s Foothill Division, allegedly exhibiting signs of mental instability and intoxication.
The police report indicates that Slack was alone and unsupervised when she removed her shirt, turned it into a noose, and tried to hang herself. Less than an hour after being booked, Slack was found hanging by her neck in her cell, unconscious and hardly alive. According to the complaint, she was not provided the immediate medical care she needed.
Eventually, Slack was taken to the Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills. There, she was diagnosed with a brain injury and various bodily wounds and abrasions, including lesions on her arms, head, right breast, pelvic region, and leg.
Six days after her arrest and two days after her family arrived in town from Minnesota, Slack died at the hospital. The lawsuit alleges that prior to her death, Slack had no major health problems and no history of attempting suicide.
Slack’s twin sister posted a YouTube video showing Slack in the hospital and alleging fatal abuse by the LAPD.
Slack’s family members demand to know how she was left to die. The family attorney wrote to the LAPD, requesting information, videos, and photographs, but the police department failed to respond. The autopsy concluded that Slack died of suicide by hanging. However, there was no evidence of a neck injury.
In a recent report, the LAPD Chief of Police said that Slack used a restraining ring located in her cell to harm herself. Based on this finding, all such ring restraints have been removed from LAPD cells. The LAPD Chief of Staff admitted that these restraints should had been removed a long time ago.
The delay in medical care, the complaint alleges, caused Slack various physical deficiencies that eventually caused her death. The family’s attorney stated that once the LAPD took Slack into custody, the organization took on a responsibility for her health. She continued that Slack, a homeless alleged prostitute, was unjustly treated as “one of the many people disregarded in America.”
The personal injury lawyers at the Neumann Law Group represent victims of accidents throughout the Los Angeles area. Call us at (213) 227-0001 for a free consultation.
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