MILWAUKEE (CN) – The family of a baby who spent all of her brief life in a maximum security cell at the Milwaukee County jail filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the county and conservative Sheriff David Clarke Jr.
“As a result of the defendants’ reckless disregard and deliberate indifference, baby Laliah is not spending her first Christmas, or any other thereafter, with her mother or family, nor will she ever grow to have a family of her own,” according to Friday’s complaint, filed in Milwaukee federal court.
Laliah Swayzer, born healthy on July 14 to her mother Shadé Swayzer, died just a few hours later, while correctional staff ignored or laughed off the small family’s cries and screams for help, the complaint states.
The baby’s death is just one of four preventable deaths in the “dangerously understaffed” facility this year, according to Swayzer and her family.
One inmate was allegedly dropped on his head while seizing, another received no treatment for extreme substance withdrawal, and a third died of dehydration, which has since been ruled a homicide.
Swayzer was placed in the Milwaukee County Justice Facility on July 6 after she refused to leave a motel room, the complaint states.
Hospital staff medically cleared her and confirmed that her 33-week pregnancy was healthy and progressing normally when she was placed in the special needs unit at the jail, Swayzer says.
Two correctional officers, named only as C.O. Love and C.O. Brooks, allegedly transferred Swayzer to the maximum security unit without medical clearance, and a jail doctor delayed a July 13 appointment because Swayzer was not a priority.
At midnight on July 14, Swayzer went into labor in her “cold, dark and unsanitary maximum security cell,” her lawsuit states.
Swayzer screamed for help, but a correctional officer laughed at her and ignored her request, she claims in the complaint.
After four hours of unassisted labor, Swayzer’s baby was born in the jail cell, where she cried profusely and tried to breastfeed, the mother says.
More than an hour after she was born, after several guards had allegedly sneaked through the unit to avoid inmate detection, one finally noticed Laliah in the cell with her mother.
This guard inexplicably waited nine minutes to call a medical emergency, and it was another nine minutes before the Milwaukee Fire Department was called, the lawsuit states.