On July 22, 2015, Michael Sabbie, 35, was found dead in a jail cell at the Bi-State Jail in Texarkana, Texas. And two years later, his family is still looking for answers.
Sabbie was arrested after getting into an argument with his wife, Teresa Sabbie, and allegedly threatening her. Within 48 hours of his arrest, Sabbie reportedly visited the medical office at the jail twice and complained about breathing issues. And when he was returned to his cell, he even questioned whether the jail was going to do anything about his medical issues.
During his court appearance, jail officials noticed that Sabbie’s health was an issue. After he entered a not guilty plea and his bond was set, Sabbie said he needed to go to the hospital because he was spitting up blood. Once again, his health was ignored.
On the way back to his cell, Sabbie stopped to lean up against a wall and complained once again about breathing issues. Video shows Sabbie being thrown to the ground by officers while saying, “I can’t breathe.”
Warning: The video below contains graphic images.
On Thursday a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Texarkana seeking damages on behalf of Sabbie’s widow and their three young children, as well as a fourth child from another relationship.
According to NBC, the lawsuit alleges that the jail “forc[ed Sabbie] to endure extreme and needless pain and suffering, and causing death.”
“The medical neglect in this case went way beyond negligence,” Erik Heipt, the lawyer representing the Sabbie family, said. “It’s a textbook example of deliberate indifference.”
No one was charged in Sabbie’s death, but the lawsuit states that jail employees, and the private prison company in charge of the Bi-State Jail, played a role in Sabbie’s “unnecessary death.”
“The senselessness of his death has affected me deeply. It was totally preventable. It sickens me to know he needed to go to the hospital and was denied. They treated him as if his life did not matter,” Teresa Sabbie said in a statement.
Read more at NBC News.