The Michigan jail where David Stojcevski lost 50 pounds before dying is being probed by the FBI over the incident.
According to a lawsuit filed by Stojcevski's brother Vladimir against the jail, David was brought in to the jail on June 11 for failing to appear on a careless driving charge, and was told to pay a $772 fine or spend 30 days in jail. He didn't pay the fine, and was held in prison where he allegedly went through withdrawal from methadone and other prescribed medications.
Over the course of 16 days, David Stojcevksi, 32, lost weight and experienced seizures. He eventually died at a nearby hospital, where he was taken about an hour and a half before he passed. The Detroit Free Press notes that according to the lawsuit, the hospital listed Stojcevski cause of death as “acute withdrawal from chronic benzodiazepine, methadone and opiate medications."
According to the Press, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham welcomed the investigation. "I promote transparency within my office and look forward to the findings of the FBI," he said in a statement, adding, "any death that occurs in the Macomb County Jail is tragic; not only to the family of the deceased, but to the men and women of the Sheriff's Office who oversee the care and custody of our 1,200 inmates daily."
A spokeswomen for the FBI told the Press that the investigation is a "routine procedure."
But Vladimir Stocjevski's lawyer, Robert Ihrie, said he thinks the move will reveal the jail's shortcomings. “The investigation into the cause of David Stojcevski’s death will reveal seriously deficient if not criminal conduct on the part of those involved,” he said. This is not the first time Macomb's jail is being accused of neglect.
Vladimir Stocjevski, who was jailed along with his brother and alleges similar treatment before being moved to a hospital, told WDIV that "when the facts do come out, I truly do believe…that justice will be served." He continued, "Not only on David's end, but also on my end." Vladimir went on to say he thinks the public deserves to know that "this is happening in our backyards."
The Macomb Daily reports that Stojcevski may have been able to cut his 30-day prison sentence short with an alternative program called the Macomb Alternative to Real Community Help, or MARCH. According to the Daily, a woman named Lisa Bingham, who works in Macomb County Community Corrections, sent an email to the secretary working for the judge that sentenced David Stojcevksi saying she tried repeatedly to convince Stojcevski to take the option.
The judge had initially offered MARCH as an alternative to jail time, according to the Daily. In the email, Bingham apparently wrote, “I, again, tried today to speak with him about the possibility of the MARCH program, but he would not move from his cell or speak."
There was no mention of the MARCH program in the lawsuit's complaint, which stated that "On or about June 11, 2014, Vladimir's brother David, Deceased, was brought to the Macomb County Jail from the 39th District Court to serve a thirty (30) day jail sentence or pay $772.00 for failing to appear on the civil infraction charge of Careless Driving."
Bingham's email was reportedly sent on June 20. By then, Stojcevski was moved to a mental health unit, where his medical troubles intensified. According to the lawsuit, Stojcevski asked officers if they would be refilling his medications on June 21; he died six days later.
WDIV reports that the county has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. That hearing will be held Oct. 14.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.