Protestors want answers in woman's jail cell death in Richmond H -

Protestors want answers in woman's jail cell death in Richmond Heights

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By Eric Lorenz By Eric Lorenz
By Eric Lorenz By Eric Lorenz
By Eric Lorenz By Eric Lorenz
By Eric Lorenz By Eric Lorenz
By Eric Lorenz By Eric Lorenz

ST. LOUIS ( -- Demonstrators were calling for justice Friday in the case of a homeless woman who died in a Richmond Heights jail cell after being removed from the hospital.

Protestors who held a march on Friday said they are upset at how St. Louis County authorities have handled the investigation.

The demonstration started in Clayton outside the St. Louis County government building on South Central Avenue and ended at St. Mary's Health Center.

Anna Brown, 29, died in a jail cell in September from blood clots that formed in her leg and migrated to her lungs, hours after Richmond Heights police arrested her for trespassing at St. Mary's Health Center.

In the week before Brown’s death, she went to three hospitals complaining of leg pain after spraining her ankle.

Brown, who had lost custody of two children, refused to leave the third hospital, St. Mary's Health Center. She yelled from a wheelchair at security personnel and Richmond Heights police officers that her legs hurt so badly she couldn't stand. She was arrested for trespassing and wheeled out in handcuffs after a doctor said she was healthy enough to be locked up.

She told officers she couldn't get out of the police car, so they dragged her by her arms into the station. They left her lying on the concrete floor of a jail cell. Just 15 minutes later, a jail worker found her cold to the touch.

Although officers suspected Brown was using drugs, autopsy results showed she had no drugs in her system.

Meanwhile, St. Mary's officials say they did all they were supposed to do for Brown.

"Our records show that, in this case, everything that should have been done medically was done properly. We found nothing that would have changed this tragic outcome," according to a statement.

Acting Police Chief Maj. Roy Wright said his officers had no way of knowing Brown's dire condition.

"A lot of times people don't want to stay in jail and will claim to be sick," he said. "We depend on medical officials to tell us they're OK."

Brown's personal problems came to a head in April when a state Children's Division representative found Brown's home in disarray. Brown's mother was allowed to care for the children as long as Brown didn't live with them. Soon Brown was on the streets, living in four homeless shelters from May to September 2011. Eventually, she joined the St. Louis Empowerment Center, a drop-in center for the mentally ill.

"It was like a light bulb went on when she heard others tell their stories," said Kevin Dean, a peer specialist at the center. "She was just starting to make progress."

State inspectors working for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- a federal agency that regulates hospitals -- interviewed St. Mary's staff and reviewed medical records.

They found that when Brown arrived at St. Mary's around 11:45 a.m. on Sept. 20, her left ankle was swollen. She was there for about seven hours, during which ultrasounds on both of her legs were negative for blood clots.

Inspectors said she returned eight hours later and was discharged at 7 a.m. Three hours later, she was still there and refusing to leave.

After obtaining a "Fit for Confinement" report from a doctor at 12:30 p.m., officers carried her by her arms and legs into a cell and left her on her back on the floor. A short time later they were shocking her with a defibrillator and rushing her back to St. Mary's.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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