WESTLAND, Mich. – A preliminary examination hearing ended Tuesday for three people charged in connection to an inmate's death at the Westland Police Department's jail.
Sgt. Ronald Buckley and Westland paramedics Matt Dicosola and Leah Maynard are charged for their connection to the in-custody jail death of William Marshall, of Inkster.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy said it all started on Dec. 10, 2017 at 6:28 a.m. Marshall was arrested for cocaine and marijuana possession during a traffic stop. He was taken into custody 11 minutes later at 6:39 a.m.
While in his cell, he started convulsing and having muscle spasms.
“At 8:02, they observed him, all of them, observed him on the cell floor convulsing still. Mr. Marshall told the EMTs, he was having a seizure repeatedly, and asked for help. Neither paramedic checked him for vital signs. Mr. Marshall convulsed for almost an hour and half, with no medical attention. The cause of death was cocaine toxicity,” said Worthy.
Buckley, Dicosola and Maynard face involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office charges.
Evidence, testimony shared at preliminary hearing
Video from inside the jail cell was played in court during the preliminary examination hearing on Monday. It shows Marshall convulsing on the cell floor. Prosecutors detailed the timeline of events leading up to his death with the video as a visual aide.
On Tuesday, testimony was given from a medical examiner and a prisoner who was locked up with Marshawll. The court first heard from Dr. Leigh Lavie, the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Marshall's body. She said he had suffered external abrasions to his forehead, temple and upper abdomen. He also suffered abrasions internally and a baggie was found in his stomach.
"His heart literally stopped from all the cocaine," she testified.
The court then heard from James Fielhauer, a prisoner who was locked up at the Westland jail with Marshall. Fielhauer said Marshall seemed completely normal at first, but then he started having trouble breathing.
"I asked him if he was OK. He mumbled a few things. He said he might get sick," said Fielhauer. "He later tried to stand up and something wasn't right. His eyes were rolling, he couldn't hold his speech. I called the officer over. The other guy yelled over that Marshall was having a seizure but the officer said he was overdosing."
Fielhauer testified that Marshall was taken out of the cell, treated by paramedics and was begging officers to allow him to go to a hospital when they pushed him back into the cell.
"I told the cops that Marshall is getting worse," said Fielhauer. "They ignored me and tried to tell Marshall he was free to leave."
Fielhauer said he became distraught because he "just saw a guy die in front of me for no reason."
Prosecutors said Fielhauer was a drug dealer who has a warrant out for his arrest. He did not deny that. They asked him if he was offered a plea deal in exchange for his testimony. He said no.
The defense wants to call three officers to the stand but their union wants them to plead the 5th.
Judge Mark Plawecki asked the parties to file briefs in the matter. Oral arguments will be heard Jan. 18, 2019.
"I again want to offer my sincere apology to the William Marshall family for their loss. The charges today against the City of Westland police officer are taken seriously by the department and the City administration. The officer charged today has been suspended pending the Departmental investigation and discipline. We will provide the police union the necessary notice of our intention to conduct and finalize our investigation into this matter. After the investigation, we will take the necessary discipline up to and including termination of the officer. The Westland Police Department has implemented changes to department’s policies and procedures regarding prisoner incarceration. The Department has provided additional training to its employees and will continue to do so to ensure that something like this never happens again."
Westland police later announced that the internal investigation found Buckley had violated department policies and procedures, so he was terminated. The department then released this statement back in October:
"The Westland Police Department has completed its internal investigation regarding Sergeant Ronald Buckley's involvement in the prisoner incarceration incident which ultimately resulted in the death of William Marshall. The investigation included meetings with Sergeant Buckley, his union representation and his lawyer. The internal investigation revealed that Sergeant Buckley violated policies and procedures of the Westland Police Department. As a result of these policy violations, the employment of Ronald Buckley has been terminated with the city of Westland Police Department.
"The Westland Police Department would like to again offer our sincere apology to the William Marshall family.
"The Westland Police Department has implemented additional changes to the department's policies and procedures regarding prisoner incarceration. The department has also provided additional training to its employees and will continue to do so to ensure that something like this never happens again."