Washington: Mom of Man Who Died In Jail On Pot Charge Sues, Seeks $10 Million
By Steve Elliott
The mother of a Washington state man who died in jail after turning himself in on a minor marijuana charge has filed a notice of claim against Snohomish County, indicating she will seek $10 million in a lawsuit.
Just months after the death of Michael Saffioti, 22, Washington state voters legalized recreational marijuana. It took only one day in jail for Saffioti, who suffered from severe allergies, to die once he was jailed, reports Nina Shapiro at the Seattle Weekly.
Saffioti had an extreme allergy to dairy products, as well as asthma; according to his mother, Rose, Michael felt better when he used marijuana.
He didn't have his medical marijuana authorization, though, which led to a pot possession charge for which he turned himself in.
Michael had already spent time in jail for marijuana. During a previous stay, other inmates called him "Bubble Boy" because his food was wrapped in plastic because of his allergies, reported The Everett Herald last year.
But something went wrong after Saffioti turned himself in to the Lynwood Police Department. An officer at Lynwood noted his health conditions, including the severe dairy allergy, and "determined that he could not be properly supervised at the city jail due to his medical issus." He was transferred to Snohomish County Jail.
But that jail assigned Saffioti not to its medical unit, but to its mental health unit, according to the notice of claim. Incredibly, the jail failed to put Michael on a list for a special diet, according to the document.
Fifteen minutes after being served breakfast early on the morning of July 3, 2012, Michael told an officer he wasn't feeling well, and asked to see a nurse. He repeated his request, more urgently, several times, and was at first ignored.
Finally, about a half-hour later, nurses arrived, according to the notice of claim. By that time, Saffioti was "pale and did not appear to [be] breathing."
The young man was pronounced dead at 7:41 a.m.
A report by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner claims the cause of death was asthma, but questions continue to be raised about the possible role played by Saffioti's dairy allergy.
The Snohomish County Sheriff's Department didn't return a call seeking comment.
(Photo: Everett Herald)