Man dies of food allergy in Shohomish County Jail

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

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SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. - Video obtained by KIRO 7 through a public records request shows a Snohomish County Jail inmate questioning the breakfast he was fed that ultimately killed him.
Michael Saffioti, 22, was no career criminal.


He had turned himself in because of an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for marijuana possession.
The video comes from jail module E-4 on the morning of July 3, 2012.


Around 5:46, a group of inmates arrived to serve breakfast and men began lining up.


While others sat to eat, the camera first captured Saffioti at the guard's desk, holding his tray.


Saffioti suffered from extreme dairy allergies and took regular pains to protect himself.


Because he had been at the Snohomish County Jail once before, guards had a medical file on him.


"Our theory is that they absolutely knew about Michael's medical needs," said Cheryl Snow, the attorney for Saffioti's mother, Rose. Snow has filed notice of a $10 million claim against the county, which says no special diet trays were sent to the module that morning.


The video shows Saffioti apparently discussing his food with the guard, servers and fellow inmates.


Eventually, he took a few bites.
"We know that he asked questions and made inquiries and he was assured the oatmeal in the food was safe for eating," Snow said.
Within a few minutes, Saffioti was back at the guard desk, using his inhaler.
According to the legal claim, he asked to see a nurse.
Instead, he was sent to his cell.
Over the next half hour, the video shows other inmates looking in Saffioti's cell as he jumped up and down.


The legal claim says he pressed his call button and was ignored.


About 35 minutes after he ate, a guard found Saffioti unconscious in his cell, cell. The guard called for help and Saffioti was dragged him out.


Nurses arrived and performed CPR. Everett firefighters took over and rushed Saffioti to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a half hour later.


"This video shows Michael clearly made his needs apparent, that his needs were ignored. Once he suffered distress he was further ignored," Snow said.


Snow had to file a public records complaint against the county to get the video, which she says backs up what witnesses have told investigators.


Her complaint says the county originally claimed the video didn't exist.


Snow says she has also been prevented from interviewing officials from the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office and responding Everett firefighters, despite early promises to Rose Saffioti of transparency from county officials.


"Instead of us having transparency we have come up against a brick wall," Snow said.

 

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