I received your letter today and I appreciate your concern as well as the support from the Inside-Outside Alliance. I am more than happy to provide you any insight, answer any questions, and provide information you request. Though, I will ask to remain anonymous, as I’d prefer to refrain from making enemies with the facility in control of me. However, I feel as if the details I provide to you regarding Matthew McCain are substantial and need to be heard.
It may be hard for those who live in the community to identify detainees at this facility as innocent. But that is the truth, until proven otherwise. While detained here we should be treated with respect and dignity and those lines are crossed frequently everyday. This is the first time I’ve been charged for an alleged crime committed and I’m learning through first hand experience the hardships placed on many individuals and their families within this facility.
I think it’s important to establish credibility, so I will start with minimal relevant background of myself before proceeding into details involving the incidences and questionable behavior I witnessed. After the death of Matt McCain I made sure to keep written documentation of any and all details I found important. This is a serious matter and I believe it should be properly investigated. This death should have never occurred. That being said, I do not know the specifics as the actual causation to his death, if it was ever revealed to the public? I’m left to assume the causation is related to his chronic medical conditions, specifically diabetes and epilepsy/seizures.
So here goes! My name is _______. I have been a resident of Durham since December 2013. I am a registered nurse in North Carolina and specialize in cardiovascular + cardiothoracic intensive care. I moved to Durham to begin graduate studies at Duke university to receive my masters degree in May 2016. I wholeheartedly believe I am innocent and am being rigorously defended.
To the important details – I was introduced to Matt days after my arrival here in November. We attended a religious fellowship together most days of the week and communicated on a daily basis. I was well aware of his chronic medical conditions as he would ask me various medical questions because of my background.
In December, Matt had a seizure in the day room in front of all inmates and guards. I personally helped Matt from his chair to the ground and protected his head while his body violently contracted. I was quickly removed from this position in helping by the guards. After the seizure subsided, Matt was not conscious, completely incapacitated, and struggling to breath. When the nurses arrived to the code blue on the radio, I watched as the guards recklessly picked him off the ground. At least 3 officers manually picked him up and threw him onto the stretcher where he was then quickly wheeled out of the pod.
I guess with my knowledge and background, my approach to the incident would have been different. When the nurses arrived they did not first assess him, check vitals, make note of any possible injury sustained from the seizure before aggressively removing him from the ground. I saw no nurse establish his respiratory status, possible need for supplemental oxygen, or assess for vomiting. This is all basic medical care for anyone who suffered a seizure. I understand I only witnessed immediate interventions, or rather lack thereof,, but I will say basic precautions and medical care were not provided.
I learned after this event that Matt had multiple other seizures previously in this facility. From December to the morning of his death, Matt suffered numerous seizures in the confines of his cell. All times seizures occurred in the cell the officers had to be notified by other inmates in adjacent cells of suspicious sounds. Inmates in neighboring cells were aware of his condition and when they heard continued knocking on the wall or sounds of struggling to breath, they would notify the officer on duty. If they did not hear these sounds, Matt’s seizures would have gone unnoticed and he would not have received immediate medical attention.
The officers and nurses were well aware that Matt was having multiple seizures that went unnoticed without the attention from neighboring inmates. We are confined to our cell in lock back for at least 17 hours all day. Due to circumstances I’m not aware of, Matt was punished and locked in his cell 23 hours. In fact he was in this 23 hour seclusion during the morning of his death. A seizure only lasts a minute or two and completely incapacitates him where he required immediate medical attention during and after any seizure. However, they thought it was safe for him to remain unmonitored in his cell under 23 hour seclusion knowing he would need attention during any seizure outset, which often went unnoticed by officers? It was not a safe environment for Matt.
In fact, Matt was having increased frequency of seizures days preceding his death. If I remember correctly, he had a seizure the day before his death and one earlier that week. Matt told me he had to place his mattress on the floor of his room because he was falling off the bed whenever he had a seizure. He did not feel safe in that cell.
Now, only a guess, but seeing as his seizure activity was increasing and primarily occurred in the early morning hours, his death is related to his chronic medical conditions. Maybe respiratory distress, aspiration from vomiting, or even from his insulin management.
Matt was feeling depressed days preceding his death. He was often refusing medications and did not have an appetite. I did hear the nurse say, on more than one occasion, “I don’t care if you take your meds or not.” I guess as a medical professional, my approach to that situation would be completely different.
Officers make inspections or rounds on the cells usually once or twice an hour. On the evening shifts it seemed as if this was less frequent and I have witnessed officers sleeping at their desk. Is this an appropriate environment for an individual who could have a seizure at any moment and require immediate medical attention is not suspicious that his seizures were increasing in frequency leading up to his death?
Now, this is my opinion 100%. I believe the officials acted with deliberate indifference and neglect. They know about his chronic medical conditions and the increasing episodes. There was serious danger to Matt if a seizure went unnoticed, they know he required immediate medical attention upon outset of any seizure and provided no means to limit this danger. They failed to take responsible measures to abate substantial risk of serious harm. What is questionable here is the fact that he remained in a cell that could not be easily monitored by officers, routine inspections of cells were sporadic and infrequent at night. They failed to provide Matt a safe monitored environment where any seizure would be quickly noticed. This led to a delay in adequate medical care/attention ultimately leading to his death.
Now comes the morning of his death. The nurse usually came between 5:15-5:30 am to check Matt’s blood sugar. Around 5:20 I heard loud banging and looked out to see what was happening. At this point I heard the officer say “Is he breathing.” At no point did I hear the officer call a code blue, instead I saw them both walk away from the room. It wasn’t until the sergeant arrived that anyone began CPR and appropriate help was requested. Paramedics did not arrive until 5:45 and life saving medications were not began until 5:52 am.
If you have any specific questions to these events, please do not hesitate to ask!
CO Boria is a very hard officer to like. HIs motto is “If you do not bother me, I will not bother you” and states this before we are allowed access to the day room every time. Though, he seems to instigate many interactions that require him to show his authority. This is not uncommon though among many guards. Like I stated before there was infrequent checks on cells and the morning of Matt’s death, the actions they took that morning were not appropriate. Now I’m not sure if he ignored the calls of other neighboring inmates but when the nurse came to give him his insulin that morning they came upon him “not breathing.” Other instances neighboring inmates caught attention of officers but this morning I did not see or hear anyone trying to gain officer Boria’s attention prior to both the nurse and him opening his door and finding him unconcscious.
I read the newsletter you sent and I will agree with many points made.
Coming up on a hundred days here, I never want to see a bologna or salami sandwich. The only meat we get here is soy based. I found the sheriff’s response to the food served as a gross exaggeration of reality. The only time they ever served actual chicken was on Thanksgiving.
Aramark is an extreme rip off. One package of Ramen noodle soup is 82 cents. The same package you can buy in a store for 5 or 10 cents. A calling card costs $20 but there is an additional $7 charged for the card itself each time. To place money in your account there is a substantial processing fee Aramark charges if you don’t do so in person at the jail.
My family does not live here in N. Carolina because I was here for school. They traveled 600 miles to visit me over the holidays. I was granted 1 visit for 20 minutes in which I was forced to leave the visitation room by the officer. That is the only time I have seen my family in 3 months due to the distance they live from here. It’s inconceivable that this behavior exists with the officers, but it is true.
Again, let me know if I can help any further with your investigation and thank you for the newsletter.