Surveillance video indicates that South Carolina jailers knew inmate Joyce Curnell was ill, but allowed her to die anyway.
Curnell, 50, died of dehydration on July 22 after repeated vomiting deprived her body of fluids. She’d been taken to the hospital by ambulance on July 21 after experiencing abdominal pain. While at the hospital, officials determined that she had an outstanding bench warrant for a 2011 shoplifting case.
Curnell’s son, Javon Curnell, called 911 and made them aware of his mother’s warrant so she could detox from alcohol, The New York Times reported, but his mother had never been locked up before.
Video obtained by the Post and Courier indicates that “many people” at the jail saw Curnell and could tell she was ill, but none took action that could’ve saved her life.
In the video Curnell appears ill from the moment she enters the jail.
“She was placed in a pod that was nearest the bathroom due to her shaking so much whenever she walked,” wrote detention officer Charlene Jackson. “After a few minutes of being in the unit, she was in the bathroom throwing up.”
Still, the deputy who arrested Curnell said she showed no sign of illness.
Video also shows Curnell stumbling as she makes her way to the bathroom. Once in the bathroom, Curnell vomited, then spoke with a nurse for about a minute and a half. According to the nurse, Curnell said nothing was wrong.
Nurse Thomas Barron says Curnell did not report any issues and interacted with inmates.
Witnesses claim Curnell tried to drink water from the fountain but could not keep it down. Tylenol and Zofran were prescribed for any nausea. She still continued to throw up mostly clear liquid.
“While waiting for the nurse, I observed her throwing up nonstop,” Jackson wrote. “She would say her meds were brought here and she needed to get and take them.”
Video shows Curnell falling back down each time she tried to sit up in her bed at 7a.m.
An inmate reported that Curnell got progressively worse.
“She seemed fine but weak,” wrote Kristen Cook, 41. “She laid down through the afternoon, still vomiting.”
“The last words she spoke … was she’s been having problems with blood pressure and threw up some more,” Cook said.
Curnell died in bed.