The city has to pay $17.5 million to a man cops arrested in 2006, a Brooklyn jury decided yesterday. Why? Because Jose Vargas had diabetes, and the police refused to give him insulin during the 58 hours for which they detained him. It left his brain “fried,” a doctor testified during trial, the Post reports. The man plans to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Asked during the trial what he looked forward to, Vargas replied, ‘Nothing’
It’d be a sad story if it were an isolated incident. But in fact it’s outrageous—it seems to happen all the damn time. The NYPD has repeatedly denied insulin to arrested diabetics, at best almost killing them, at worst, leaving them permanently injured, as with Mr. Vargas.
The most recent case was in August, when Juan Castillo was arrested for putting his foot on an empty seat on the F train. Castillo had done so to more easily rub the thigh into which he had just injected insulin. According to the Post, again:
Castillo claims he was assured by other cops that he would be released “shortly” and they brushed off his pleas for insulin. He contacted his sister, but cops told her not to deliver insulin because he’d be out soon…But instead of being released, Castillo was taken to Queens Central Booking and thrown in a pen. “He began to throw up and . . . started drifting in and out of consciousness,” the suit says. After more than 30 hours in custody, Castillo was brought before a judge — who dismissed the charge. But Castillo was so weak by then that he was taken to Metropolitan Hospital, where he remained for two days.
The street artist Shepard Fairey, responsible for the famous Obama “HOPE” poster, is also a diabetic. A 2000 article in Slamm Magazine told this story:
Fairey nearly died in a New York jail when a guard denied him the use of his medications. “After two days without insulin, I started throwing up something that looked like radiator fluid,” he says. “It’s not legal [to withhold medications], but you don’t have any rights in jail. When they finally realized that I was going down, they took me to a hospital. My blood sugar was over 800 [as opposed to a normal reading of 120]. I never felt so bad in my life.
The story isn’t unique to NY, either. A 10-second Google search turned up a 2007 story from Minnesota about a prisoner who died in custody after being denied insulin.
This is why people think cops are dicks.