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Denver sheriff deputy who watched as inmate suffered seizures is fired

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 19:26:56-04

DENVER – A Denver sheriff's deputy who watched as a female inmate suffered seizures while in custody has been fired, according to disciplinary letters released by county officials Thursday.

Two other deputies were suspended for their roles in the incident.

The fired deputy, Sarah Bautista, was on duty at the Denver Downtown Detention Center on Feb. 2, 2018, when an inmate began having seizures and rolling around on the floor, Bautista's discipline letter said. The inmate, at one point, appeared to be motionless and was face down on the floor for 14 seconds.

Neither Bautista or fellow Deputy Zoe Vigil "did anything about it," the discipline letter said.

As the inmate stood up and bumped into a wall and "was obviously disoriented," Bautista left the cell area. Vigil, the discipline letter said, stood in the cell door and watched the inmate for nearly two minutes.

Neither Bautista nor Vigil "appeared in the video to be asking her if she was all right, the cell door was not opened, and Medical was not called," the discipline letter said.

A jail captain interviewed by investigators said "even a minor seizure would have raised red flags" and should prompt a deputy to call for medical crews.

Investigators wrote that Bautista did not accept responsibility for the incident and had "a lax and cavalier attitude" in her interviews.

When one investigator asked Bautista if she could see that the inmate was "having kind of an episode," Bautista responded: "How am I supposed to see that? And even if it is, how am I supposed to identify that as a seizure? I'm not medically trained."

Investigators wrote that Bautista's "constant denial of wrongdoing and inability to acknowledge her failures" were "of grave concern."

Vigil was suspended 22 days but expressed a "desire to learn from this incident and react differently in the future," her disciplinary letter said. Deputy Amanda Steckman was suspended 10 days for not completing a required round during the morning the inmate suffered the seizure.