A Denver woman has filed a lawsuit after she was left alone in a jail cell while giving birth. However, the sheriff’s department claims it followed protocol.
Diana Sanchez is suing Denver Health Medical Center, the city and county of Denver and six sheriff’s deputies and nurses after jail guards denied her medical assistance while going into labor. The incident happened on July 31, 2018, at around 5 a.m. when she was receiving her breakfast.
A closed-circuited video captured the entire ordeal in Sanchez’s cell. In the video, the woman can be seen talking to someone at the door of her cell around 6:30 a.m. When the clock hits 9:30 a.m. Sanchez begins knocking on the cell door, trying to get someone’s attention, which is when her water reportedly broke.
According to the lawsuit, Sanchez told the jail staff that she was going into labor and she was suffering from abdominal pain. After about 15 minutes, someone slid what her lawyer described as a white folded absorbent pad under the door. Sanchez unfolded it and put it on her cot; she then proceeded to lie on top of it.
After thirty minutes, Sanchez is seen in pain, screaming, and trying to control her breathing. The entire time she is alone in her cell. One guard then steps into the doorway but steps back out. Sanchez eventually delivered a baby boy, and then a nurse entered the room. “The nurse that finally does come in looks down at the baby that has been born as if it had just dropped down from outer space. The way he picks up the baby is as if he’s never seen a baby before,” said Sanchez’s lawyer, Mari Newman. Sanchez said she let jail staff know she was having contractions all morning and that an ambulance wasn’t called until after she’d already given birth.
The lawsuit said that staff ordered a “non-emergent van” to take her to the hospital. “I felt helpless. Nobody was helping me. There were so many people there, and nobody lifted a finger basically,” she told the station. “That pain was just — it’s indescribable, and what hurts me more, though, is the fact that nobody cared.” The lawsuit also explained the jail staff was still unprepared when the child was born. “Despite multiple requests, no clamps were found. No nurse at the jail ever clamped or severed the umbilical cord,” the suit said.
The Denver Sheriff Department has denied its deputies did anything wrong, but have changed their policies regarding women in labor as a result.