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2007 News Releases

ACLU Seeks Review of Police Department Medical Policies 
in Light of Custodial Death of Brazilian

Posted: August 09, 2007|Category: Open Government Category: Police Practices

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In response to the death on Tuesday of Edmar Alves Araujo, a Brazilian national who had epilepsy, while in the custody of immigration officials, the ACLU of Rhode Island has today filed an open records request with the Woonsocket Police Department to obtain copies of its policies addressing how the medical needs of individuals in the Department’s custody are handled. The ACLU has also called on the Attorney General to conduct an immediate inventory of other municipal police department policies across the state regarding the provision of medication to detainees who may have emergency medical needs.

According to news reports, Araujo’s sister claims that after her brother called to say he had been arrested by Woonsocket police after he had been pulled over for a traffic violation, she immediately went to the police station with his epilepsy medication. She told police that he had seizure problems, but the officers there refused to accept the medicine she had brought for him. Shortly after police transferred him to federal authorities, Araujo showed “physical signs of distress.” He died a short time later after being taken to Rhode Island Hospital.

In a letter sent to the Attorney General today, the ACLU urges him to conduct an immediate inventory of other municipal police department policies across the state that address the screening of, and provision of medication to, detainees who may have emergency medical needs. The letter notes: “Obviously, we have no first-hand knowledge of what transpired in this particular case, but we believe undertaking this inventory is essential in order to determine if appropriate procedures are in place so as to prevent similar tragedies like this from occurring. If the policies are deficient, we hope you will do all that is necessary to ensure that proper screening protocols are promptly adopted by all police departments in Rhode Island.”

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