MAY 15, 2017
The El Paso County Coroner’s Office has issued a finding in the 2014 death of a Fremont County jail inmate that backs up his family’s contention that he died of prescription drug withdrawal after being deprived of an anti-anxiety medication.
John Patrick Walter, who suffered delusions and shed 30 pounds in less than three weeks before his April 2014 death at the Cañon City detention center, died of “acute benzodiazepine withdrawal,” according to an April 17 report by Dr. Emily Berry.
Walter, 53, brought his prescriptions with him to the jail upon being booked on suspicion of felony assault. Blood tests show he wasn’t provided his daily 6 mg dosage of Klonopin, even as his condition continued to deteriorate in a glass-walled observation cell in full view of numerous deputies.
The new finding bolsters allegations in an ongoing federal lawsuit that Walter’s nightmarish decline was the result of medical neglect.
It also raises new questions about the medical care provided to inmates by the jail’s former health care contractor Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, Tenn., a giant in the for-profit correctional health care industry formerly known as Correctional Healthcare Companies Inc. Fremont County terminated its contract with the company effective Jan. 1.
A Denver Post special report showed that Colorado jail deaths have steadily increased and doubled from 2011 to June of 2015.