Doctor charged with distributing opioids to inmate who died from withdrawal at Macomb County Jail
David Stojcevski died due to withdrawal from doctor-prescribed medications
A Metro Detroit doctor is facing federal charges on suspicion of over-proscribing opioids in connection with the death of an inmate at the Macomb County Jail.
Dr. Bernard Shelton, 60, of Harrison Township, was charged with 21 counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. One of his patients was David Stojcevski.
Stojcevski's death sparked a national debate on the treatment of inmates after the Local 4 Defenders aired video of his final days, which included agonizing suffering due to withdrawal from doctor-prescribed medications.
Stojcevski was addicted to opioids when he died in the Macomb County Jail, and now federal officials have indicted the doctor who federal officials say prescribed them to him.
Shelton lives in a modest apartment in Harrison Township and worked at a medical center in St. Clair Shores. Federal officials said he distributed an astounding 4 million addictive pills to Macomb County residents, many of whom were addicted.
"I want justice," Stephanie Stojcevski, David Stojcevski's mother, said. "I want justice for my kids and everyone who died in the Macomb County Jail."
While her lawsuit against the Macomb County Jail drags on, she felt some justice Monday with Bernard's charges.
"God is going to be with us," she said. "God has a special room in the court, and they are supposed to be punished."
Shelton is from Jamaica and has been in the United States since 2006 on a green card. As it stands, a trial date is set for Dec. 19.
If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the most serious charges.
FBI documents reveal new details about inmate's death
More than three years after his death, his family is getting some answers and raising new questions.
It was classified information until Oct. 23, as more comes out about what the FBI discovered while investigating Stojcevski's death.
"He didn't need to die," Stephanie Stojcevski said. "There was no reason for it. No, the hospital is five minutes away. ... My David died on the floor, and he lost 50 pounds, and I'll never have my David back."
Stephanie Stojcevski said she cries for the loss of her son and fights for justice in his death.
Video showed David Stojcevski shaking, naked on a jail floor, twitching and seizing for days until he died.
He was in jail for failure to pay $700 in fines. He died as guards watched on camera.
"They watched my son die for 13-14 days," Stephanie Stojcevski said. "I don't know why they don't respond. Do they have a heart? How do they sleep at night? Do they have kids?"
The FBI found that David Stojcevski had no food his last five days of life. He lay on the jail floor twitching for his last 48 hours without any visits from the jail medical staff.
Multiple guards said they were worried and asked the medical staff to help David Stojcevski, but were repeatedly told he was fine and that it was normal for a person detoxing from opioid addiction.
One guard said he wasn't told specifically by medical staff members that David Stojcevski was faking, but that was the impression he got from them.
"That guard is wrong," Stephanie Stojcevski said. "They are supposed to call emergency. They are supposed to take them to the hospital. Everyone who was there -- shame on them."
Another guard detailed how he and his partner watched David Stojcevski in his final moments, his stomach moving up and down until it stopped.
After the Local 4 Defenders aired the video, the county called a press conference, saying jail staff members deserved medals for trying to save David Stojcevski's life.
The FBI investigation doesn't reveal what, if anything, the medical staff said about their role in the death. The Justice Department ruled that the inaction by staff members didn't amount to criminal activity.
David Stojcevski's parents said that still doesn't make it right.
"Every day is harder and harder, and I am going to fight to the end for justice," Stephanie Stojcevski said.
Since 2012, 18 people have died while in custody. The Macomb County Sheriff's Department said since David Stojcevski's death, the jail is quicker to send sick inmates to the hospital and has begun building a new central intake facility to access an inmate's risk prior to incarceration.
Hundreds of pages are still classified. The Justice Department refused to turn them over to the Defenders.
David Stojcevski's family said it will not rest until the entire story is told and changes are made at the Macomb County Jail.