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Family claims ill inmate died because of Denver jail staff negligence

Leroy Henry Taylor
Posted at 4:34 PM, Feb 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-12 19:27:18-05

DENVER — The family of a 71-year-old man who died after becoming ill while serving a sentence at the Downtown Detention Center says jail staff were negligent and could've done more to prevent his death.

Leroy "Nicky" Henry Taylor was sentenced to 30 days in jail for failing to appear in court, according to Jacquelyn Richardson and Sandra Manlove, Taylor’s first cousin and sister, respectively. His sentence began Jan. 19 and was supposed to end Feb. 23.

On Feb. 1, Manlove says she received a call from Taylor at Denver Health, where he had been taken because he had been diagnosed with COVID-19. He returned to jail five days later after testing negative, and his family claims his health quickly deteriorated.

"Once he was released, he called Sandy and said he was very sick. He said he was having excruciating pain in his chest. She said, 'How bad is the pain? Can you give it a number?' He said, '20,'" Richardson said.

In addition to the chest pain, the family says Taylor reported having trouble swallowing, numb fingers and gray-colored limbs.

"I told them, 'You guys need to do something. He's complaining about chest pains. He's complaining about not being able to swallow. You're giving him ice chips,'" Manlove recalled telling jail staff.

But despite multiple pleas for help, the family says Taylor never got the treatment he needed from the jail's infirmary.

"I want to know why he was released from that infirmary with those symptoms with no help," Richardson said.

Taylor's family would eventually get a call the night of his death — not from the jail or hospital but from his cellmate's mother.

"[Sandra] received a phone call," Richardson said. "A lady answered the phone and asked, 'Are you Sandy?' She said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Is your brother Nicky?' She told her, 'Yes.' She said, 'Well, my son is in cell with him and told me he died.'"

Richardson and Manlove say they didn't get any official confirmation until the following morning when the coroner's office called. They also received conflicting information from both the jail staff and Denver Health about whether he died at the jail or at the hospital where paramedics eventually transported him.

"To know that somebody you love and care about was just totally disregarded and nothing mattered, that's not OK, and we cannot accept that and just go on as he's just gone," Richardson said.

The family says it still hasn't been allowed to see Taylor's body, three days since his death. They have an appointment scheduled at the mortuary for Monday.

They want accountability and answers as to why Taylor didn't get the help he needed and why no one called the family to tell them he was dying or having a medical emergency.

"Dogs get treated better than they treated him. If you take your dog to the vet, they treat him with some type of dignity. He was not afforded any dignity, no compassion, nothing," Richardson said.

The Denver Sheriff's Department sent Denver7 the following statement Friday:

"At approximately 4:00 p.m. February 9, 2022, at the Downtown Detention Center, a male inmate was discovered as non-responsive in a housing unit by deputies. A medical emergency team was immediately called and lifesaving efforts were performed until paramedics arrived. Paramedics transported him to Denver Health Hospital where it was pronounced that he had passed away. The inmate was not being monitored for COVID-19 symptoms. Per protocol, with any death in custody, the Denver Police Department has opened an investigation. To ensure the investigation is not compromised, we are limited in what information can be shared at this time. The identity of the person and cause of death will be made by the Coroners’ Office."

Denver7 has reached out to the sheriff's department, the Denver Police Department and Denver Health for additional comment Saturday but has not received a response.