Miami-Dade police detectives have launched an investigation after a 23-year-old woman died early Thursday after suffering an apparent seizure while in jail.
The woman, Nairobis Alvarez Cruz, was supposed to appear Thursday in Miami-Dade court for her arraignment on robbery charges. Cruz was housed at the Pretrial Detention Center across from the courthouse.
According to her lawyer, a fellow inmate called her relatives to inform them of her death.
“The inmate had told them that she was screaming, that she couldn’t breathe and that they ignored her for two to three hours,” said lawyer Sabino Jauregui. “I want to find out who that inmate is.”
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But a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade corrections department said “officers responded appropriately and timely to a medical emergency to include emergency room transportation.”
An autopsy is pending. Miami-Dade police’s homicide unit is investigating, which is normal in all jail deaths.
According to incident reports obtained by the Miami Herald, officers reported that at 10:50 p.m. Wednesday, they heard “loud noise” coming from her cell and saw her “having what appeared to be a seizure.”
The reports said she was immediately transported to a jail clinic, where a nurse called 911 at 11:12 p.m. According to the reports, Miami Fire-Rescue paramedics arrived five minutes later, helping perform CPR on the woman.
At 11:45 p.m., Cruz was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s emergency room. A doctor pronounced her dead at 12:19 a.m., according to the corrections reports.
Cruz, a mother of an 8-year-old son, had been arrested for her alleged role in a Hialeah robbery in March. Police said she posed as a prostitute, luring a man to an Okeechobee Road motel so that two cohorts could rob him.
Authorities have long scrutinized medical care in county jails.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded a three-year probe, saying the nation’s eighth-largest jail system engaged in a “pattern and practice of constitutional violation” of the rights of inmates housed in deplorable living conditions under abusive, inadequate or limited care.
In April 2013, Miami-Dade County and Jackson Health System — which manages inmate care within the jails — agreed to a long and expensive list of improvements for treating inmates, particularly those who are mentally ill or suicidal.
That same year, a homeless schizophrenic man named Joaquin Cairo, who was housed on the ninth floor psychiatric ward, died after he was injured during an altercation with another inmate. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is still investigating whether he received proper treatment for his injuries.
Earlier this year, the psychiatric ward was shuttered and patients moved to a retrofitted wing at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.