Surveillance Video Shows Woman Giving Birth in a Jail Cell With No Assistance

A new federal lawsuit claims a Denver woman was forced to give birth alone in a jail cell without the help of on-duty nurses and deputies. Surveillance cameras captured the entire labor and delivery.

Diana Sanchez, now 27, was booked into the Denver County Jail on July 14, 2018 on charges of identity theft after allegedly writing a check using her sister’s account, NBC News reported. Sanchez told jailers that she was eight months pregnant, her lawsuit claimed.

The suit, which was filed on August 28, said that Sanchez gave birth to a son on July 31, 2018, on what “should have been one of the happiest days of her life.” Instead, her suit claims it was “a day of unnecessary terror, pain, and humiliation that continues to cause her ongoing emotional trauma.”

At 5 a.m. on July 31, Sanchez alerted a deputy she was experiencing labor pains. According to the lawsuit, she reportedly “spoke with Denver deputies and Denver Health nurses at least eight times that morning, informing them each time she was experiencing contractions.”

“Instead of getting Ms. Sanchez and her baby immediate medical attention,” the jail’s nurses and deputies “chose to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to their care, as though it were not patently obvious to anyone — with or without medical training — that Ms. Sanchez was in labor and required immediate medical attention,” her lawsuit claimed.

Mari Newman, Sanchez’s attorney, called the case “incredibly disturbing” in an interview with CBS Denver.

“She went into labor in the early morning hours. She immediately told a guard and later a nurse that she was in labor, that she was experiencing contractions, that her water had broken, and ultimately that she was passing blood,” Newman said. An edited surveillance video shows Sanchez in pain during the morning of July 31. At one point, she was given an absorbent pad to place on her jail cell bed. At 10:44 a.m., Sanchez was seen screaming while giving birth to her son. A male nurse and deputy then entered the medical unit she was held in, CBS Denver reported.

Paramedics with the Denver Fire Department did not arrive at the jail until about 11 a.m., more than 15 minutes after the baby was born. The suit said paramedics cut the umbilical cord and gave Sanchez and the newborn medical treatment.

“We’re talking about well over five hours that she was in hard labor yelling for help and screaming in pain and they simply failed to take her to the hospital,” Newman said. “The idea that a human being could be treated in this way is really unfathomable.”

Sanchez claimed that before paramedics arrived, jail staff failed to perform basic post-labor medical procedures, such as giving the baby antibiotic eye drops or administering vitamin K and hepatitis B shots to her son. “Ms. Sanchez was forced to deliver Baby J.S.M. on a cold, hard bench, feet away from a toilet, in a jail cell at the Denver County Jail, all alone and with no medical supervision of treatment,” the lawsuit said.

The city and county of Denver, the Denver Health and Hospital Authority, four deputies, and two nurses were named as defendants. Denver Health, which provides medical care for those imprisoned at Denver jails, did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment.

In a statement to CBS Denver, the hospital said, “Denver Health provides high quality medical care to thousands of inmates every year. Our patients are our number one priority and we make every effort to ensure they receive the proper care. As this is a pending legal matter we are not able to comment at this time.”

The Denver Sheriff Department stated that it empathized with anyone incarcerated while pregnant. It noted that Sanchez was in the jail’s medical unit under the care of Denver health professionals.

“To make sure nothing like this happens again, the Denver Sheriff Department has changed its policies to ensure that pregnant inmates who are in any stage of labor are now transported immediately to the hospital,” the department said in its statement. “Unfortunately, because there is a lawsuit pending, we are unable to provide further comment at this time.” It is unclear what damages Sanchez is seeking with her lawsuit.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.