ACLU of Rhode Island Seeks Review of Police Department Medical Policies Following Death of Immigrant

August 9, 2007 12:00 am

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Rhode Island ACLU
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WOONSOCKET, RI – In response to the death on Tuesday of Edmar Alves Araujo, a Brazilian national who had epilepsy, while in the custody of immigration officials, the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island today filed an open records request with the Woonsocket Police Department to obtain copies of its policies addressing how the medical needs of individuals in police custody are handled. The ACLU has also called on the Attorney General to conduct an immediate inventory of other municipal police department policies across the state regarding the provision of medication to detainees who may have emergency medical needs.

“We believe a full review is essential to determine if appropriate procedures are in place to prevent tragedies like Mr. Araujo’s death from occurring,” said Steven Brown, Executive Director of the ACLU of Rhode Island. “If medical policies are deficient, the Attorney General should do all that is necessary to ensure that proper screening protocols are promptly adopted by all police departments in Rhode Island.”

Araujo’s sister claims that after her brother called to say he had been arrested by Woonsocket police for a traffic violation, she immediately went to the police station with his epilepsy medication. She told police that he had seizure problems, but the officers there refused to accept the medicine she had brought for him. Shortly after police transferred him to federal authorities, Araujo showed “physical signs of distress,” according to news reports. He died a short time later after being taken to Rhode Island Hospital.

The ACLU sent a letter to the Attorney General today urging him to conduct an immediate inventory of other municipal police department policies across the state that address the screening of, and provision of medication to, detainees who may have emergency medical needs.

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