Outrage grows over Mo. woman's jail death

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RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. (AP) — Family members and activists are raising their voices to seek answers in a homeless woman’s death in a jail cell after being arrested for refusing to leave a St. Louis hospital where she had sought treatment for a sprained ankle.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that an autopsy revealed blood clots killed Anna Brown when they migrated from her legs to her lungs. Brown’s family has hired a lawyer, and Brown’s mother, Dorothy Davis, said she wants answers.

“If the police killed my daughter, I want to know,” she said. “If the hospital is at fault, I want to know. I want to be able to tell her children why their mother isn’t here.”

No lawsuit has been filed.

In the week before Anna Brown’s death last September she went to three hospitals complaining of leg pain.


Brown, a 29-year-old woman who had lost custody of two children, refused to leave the third hospital, St. Mary’s Health Center. She was arrested for trespassing and wheeled out in handcuffs after a doctor said she was healthy enough to be locked up.

Fifteen minutes after Brown was placed in a cell, a jail worker found her cold to the touch.

Autopsy results showed she had no drugs in her system.

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,” 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.”

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 after the Post-Dispatch asked about Brown’s case.

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 took her to jail.

“My sister is not here today because people passed judgment,” said one of her siblings, Krystle Brown.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.