No Denver deputies to be disciplined after woman gives birth in jail

DENVER — Four months after Diana Sanchez was forced to give birth in her jail cell, the Denver Sheriff Department has concluded none of its deputies did anything wrong.

FOX31 first broke the story in August after learning the 26-year-old mom was forced give birth in her jail cell to a baby boy, despite her pleas for medical attention.

Diana Sanchez gave birth on July 31 with no anesthetics or serious medical treatment until after her son was born.

“The pain is indescribable and what hurts me more though is that fact that nobody cared,” Sanchez told FOX31 a few weeks after the incident.

Internal records obtained by FOX31 show Sanchez wasn’t taken to a hospital even though jail video shows her water broke one hour before she  gave birth.

In a statement to FOX31, the Denver Sheriff Department said:

“The Department recognizes the importance of inmate wellness and providing the appropriate health care services to every individual in our care. In this case, the investigation determined that the Deputy Sheriffs took the appropriate actions under the circumstances and followed the relevant policies and procedures; therefore, no discipline will be issued.”

Diana Sanchez

Diana Sanchez

Sanchez’s attorney, Mari Newman, told the Problem Solvers she’s not surprised the Sheriff’s Department vindicated the behavior of its own employees but said the city of Denver can still expect legal action.

“When a jail provides no medical care whatsoever to a woman who is giving birth in her cell, something is seriously wrong.  To state the obvious, childbirth is not something that comes on without warning, and any layperson can recognize the need for medical care when a woman is in labor. Our client was in labor for hours, all alone in a dirty cell, begging for medical help which never came. Denver is morally and legally responsible for the medical needs of the people it jails, even if it decides to bring in outside nurses. An inmate’s right to adequate medical care is Denver’s fundamental constitutional obligation. We are appalled, but not surprised, that Denver found no wrongdoing by its staff,” Mari Newman said.

It’s still possible nurses at the jail could face discipline since they are employed by Denver Health who is contracted by the Denver Sheriff to provide medical services.

FOX31 asked Denver Health if it has completed its investigation into the conduct of its nurses on duty that day but has yet to receive a response.

The Denver Sheriff Department said the 26-year-old mom had been in custody since July 14 for charges related to identity theft.

Sanchez said she repeatedly told deputies she was in labor but couldn’t get anyone to take her seriously, let alone call an ambulance to get her to a hospital.

“It’s very upsetting because now when my son grows up I’m going to have to tell him (how he was born) and it’s embarrassing,” said Sanchez. “I just feel so disappointed, so let down.”

The Department of Public Safety denied a public records request to release jail video that Sanchez said would show how she was ignored for hours after she felt contractions about 5 a.m. on July 31.

Internal documents written by deputies show multiple deputies appear to pin the blame on nurses, who are employees of Denver Health stationed at the Denver County Jail on Smith Road.

Just hours after the birth of Jordan Sanchez-Meraz, one deputy wrote that at 9:43 a.m., “Sanchez said her water broke and that she was yelling and she’s in excruciating pain.”

But when the deputy told a nurse, she “Did not seem alarmed and stated, ‘Isn’t she already going (to the hospital) out?”

In the staff report, the deputy responded that Sanchez was only scheduled to go by “Scout Van and that’s after book ins are completed by the Corridor Officers.”

The nurse reportedly replied, “Okay” but didn’t call for an ambulance.

Reporter Rob Low and Diana Sanchez

Reporter Rob Low and Diana Sanchez

“I was screaming, ‘Can you please get the nurse? I`m in a lot of pain’,” Sanchez remembers saying. “Then I told her, ‘Look, my water broke, my water broke.'”Sanchez’s baby was born at 10:44 a.m., an hour after her water broke.

One deputy wrote that Sanchez screamed, “The baby is coming,” and then could be seen “Holding her baby with one hand, and it appeared the baby’s feet and ankles were just then becoming visible.”

At 10:45 a.m. a nurse called an ambulance, but the report indicates nurses didn’t seem to know where to find a large clamp for the umbilical cord and had to call the Denver Fire Department to assist because paramedics were taking too long to arrive.

“They put my son’s life at risk. Like at least him, he deserves a chance, you know,” said Sanchez. “When I got at the hospital (doctors) said I could have bled to death.”

Attorney Mari Newman said the city of Denver is liable for the conduct of any medical providers it contracts with, hinting she is likely to file a lawsuit against the city for what happened to Sanchez.

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