January 14th, 2019
By Taylor Dobbs
Video of the booking room at the Springfield, Mass., police department on September 29 captured a distressed Madelyn Linsenmeir asking for water and medical care as officers methodically went through the booking routine and ignored her requests.
Several days later, on October 7, the Vermont woman died at a Massachusetts hospital. She’d battled drug addiction for years.
A poignant obituary for Linsenmeir, written by her sister Kate O’Neill, went viral. O’Neill wrote that the family hoped her sister’s story would help others let go of the stigma related to addiction. (After it ran, Seven Days hired O’Neill for a special reporting project on the ongoing opiate crisis.)
The family, along with the ACLU and Prisoners’ Legal Services, said Linsenmeir should have received immediate medical care when she was arrested. Both organizations are working with the family to figure out what went wrong.
“All officers are trained to identify the signs and symptoms of substance use, and every police department has a policy requiring officers to get medical attention for sick and injured prisoners,” Prisoners’ Legal Services attorney David Milton said. “No one should be denied medical care in a police lockup.”