Suit dropped in case of jail death


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Ricardo Grimaldo
  • Ricardo Grimaldo

Christopher Grimaldo's brother died in the middle of the night while being held at the El Paso County jail, and he wanted to know why.

As we reported early last year, Ricardo Grimaldo, a 20-year-old being held on burglary charges, died from what appeared to be a seizure or cardiac arrhythmia. In the aftermath, Christopher and his mother, Susan, heard rumors that the jail had failed to provide adequate care to Ricardo that night.

Christopher dismissed what he was hearing as hearsay, telling us that he just wanted to know the truth behind what had happened. And he felt the jail was being unnecessarily secretive, forcing him to seek an attorney for any of the information he was requesting. Which he did, and filed suit.

However, what they found in the course of a lawsuit was that the jail behaved appropriately, responding to Ricardo quickly to administer medical care.

The Grimaldos have since dropped their suit.

Inmate Death Lawsuit Dismissed in Federal Court

On November 4, 2010, Ricardo Grimaldo was in custody at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center. At about 4:40 a.m., Mr. Grimaldo’s cell mate saw him having what he thought to be a seizure. The cell mate pressed the medical emergency call button in the cell requesting immediate assistance. Deputies and medical staff immediately responded and rendered aid. Despite their efforts, Mr. Grimaldo died within an hour.

A local media outlet reported that the Sheriff’s Office failed to respond when Mr. Grimaldo’s cell mate pressed the medical emergency button. On August 30, 2011, the family of Mr. Grimaldo filed suit in United States District Court alleging there was a 40 minute period between the activation of the emergency button and assistance from staff.

Attorneys from the El Paso County Attorneys Office and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office worked tirelessly to show there was no delay in response to the button activation and that medical attention was immediately given to Mr. Gimaldo. Attorney’s for Mr. Gimraldo’s family found through discovery and their own investigation there was not a delay of “40 minutes” in the response to the emergency call button activation and that members of the Sheriff’s Office “did immediately give medical intervention and treatment to Mr. Grimaldo.”

As a result, attorneys for the family of Mr. Grimaldo filed a Motion to Dismiss in United States District Court on February 24, 2012, and that motion was granted.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa applauded the courts decision to grant the dismissal. “I am very pleased the court accepted this motion,” said Sheriff Maketa. “It was clear from the beginning my staff responded immediately to the medical call. I am grateful for the hard work of the attorneys on my staff that discredited the misinformation that was put out initially surrounding this incident. This is a tragic situation and our thoughts go out to the Grimaldo family for their loss.”

El Paso County agreed in return not to seek attorney’s fees.


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