Man Denied ER Visit, Found Unconscious in Cell

A St. Louis-area man who was detained by police for a minor traffic violation almost died after being refused treatment last year.

44-year-old Bernard Scott was being held in lieu of $360 at St. Louis County’s Pine Lawn jail. He began complaining of abdominal pain and bleeding. Paramedics were called, and despite insisting that Scott be transported to the hospital, a jail supervisor refused to release him.

The medics said Scott had a painful mass in his abdomen.

A report reviewed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reveals that medics were preparing to transport Scott when a jail supervisor made him stay. Scott ended up slipping into a coma, but has since regained consciousness.

The medics attempted to transport Scott twice, but eventually gave up, writing in their report that “[Police] again advised by [paramedics] that [patient] should be transferred to [the emergency department] for further medical attention.”

Fourteen minutes after paramedics left, Scott’s condition worsened. Another ambulance was called and his posture indicated he may have sustained brain damage, according to a medical report.

Police said they found Scott hanging by his neck from a shoelace tied to his door — a claim Scott disputes. He says he doesn’t remember hanging himself, and that he was told by police he couldn’t leave until he posted bond. The last thing he remembers is calling relatives in an attempt to secure bond money.

Scott’s incident is one of many that have garnered attention since the high profile death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland in a Texas jail cell. Authorities say she hung herself, but relatives and loved ones insist that she did not take her own life.

Bland’s death yielded several hearings on jailhouse safety throughout the nation.

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