Honduran Man in the Krome Detention Center was Unconstitutionally Denied Treatment for Bipolar Disorder and PTSD,
then Dragged and Choked During a Psychological Emergency
MIAMI – Immigration advocates have filed a complaint charging Krome detention guards dragged and choked a Honduran man amid a psychological emergency, after they had continuously refused him treatment. This is the latest in a series of filings that illustrate the horrific abuses individuals detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities across the country face daily.
The complaint, made to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was filed by attorneys with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project on behalf of Gustavo Rafael Escano, who suffered extensive injuries as a result of the incident. Freedom for Immigrants, which received the initial report from Mr. Escano on their national abuse reporting hotline, and Doctors For America joined the SPLC in submitting the complaint.
“My client needed urgent medical attention due to a mental health crisis. Instead of listening to his pleas, guards decided to use force to quiet him, leaving my client with injuries on various parts of his body. ICE and its subcontractors have not given my client proper medical care at Krome,” said Felix Montanez, senior staff attorney with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project.
The abuses laid out in the complaint are in violation of federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and ICE’s own policies. It is illegal to withhold medical care from a person in custody, accommodate for an individual’s mental illness, and it is against ICE policy to use restraint and use of force as a punishment. Furthermore, restraining someone via their neck is explicitly prohibited under any circumstances in ICE policy.
According to the complaint, a review of Mr. Escano’s medical records clearly documents that he is gravely disabled by his bipolar 1 disorder and has been experiencing mania and acute suicidality while in detention. However, rather than providing him assistance when Mr. Escano requested to see a medical provider to help with an episode, guards forced him into solitary confinement (which triggers his PTSD and psychological emergencies) by dragging him on a concrete floor, threatening to pepper spray him, and kneeling on his back and neck. As a result of the incident, Mr. Escano suffered injuries including bleeding from his head, abrasions on his elbows, and had badly cut up his fingers from holding onto a metal grate. He expressed that the guards abused him as retaliation for previous complaints of not receiving mental health treatment.
In testimony included in the complaint, Shannon Connolly, M.D. with Doctors of America noted, “Uncontrolled bipolar I disorder constitutes a serious medical need and risk to the patient, and a reasonable medical professional would perceive it as important for such a patient to receive treatment from a team able to provide for the unique needs and management of people with this condition.”