Watch CBS News

Family, Inmates Question Jail Death Of Elderly Man

BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) - Two Adams County Sheriff's Detention Facility inmates believe the death last month of an elderly inmate might have been preventable, but they claim jail staff failed to react appropriately or with much urgency to the man's deteriorating medical situation.

"I just kept thinking, 'How did this happen? He was fine,'" said Marc Briones, whose father, Marciano Briones, 84, died in the Adams County jail Dec. 28.

Marciano Briones
Marciano Briones (credit: CBS)

"I want justice for my father because he would fight for this," said the 39-year-old son.

His father was a repeat DUI offender, and after multiple DUIs was jailed in Adams County last year on a felony DUI charge. The family said when he went into jail, Marciano Briones was healthy and in good shape.

But in the days before Christmas, his cellmates say Briones stopped eating and drinking and complained of severe abdominal pain.

"What happened around Christmas is he started getting real sick", said Paul Patton, a jail inmate who shared a cell with Briones and agreed to be interviewed by CBS4.

CBS4's Brian Maass interviews Paul Patton (credit: CBS)

Adams County jail deputies recorded the CBS4 interview of Patton. Patton said he helped Briones fill out a "kite" -- an official jail request seeking medical help on Christmas Day. Patton told CBS4 that on Dec. 25 Briones was then taken to the jail's medical unit for a short visit. He said when Briones returned from his medical visit he had been told "to drink more water."

"I think they took his temperature then sent him back," Patton said.

Sgt. Jim Morgen, a spokesperson for the Adams County Sheriff's Office, declined to discuss any aspect of the Briones case saying it was currently under investigation.

Another cellmate of Briones -- Jazs Garcia -- told CBS4 "he was only getting up a couple times a day and not really eating. As each day went on he got worse and worse."

On Dec. 27 Patton said Briones was "looking like a skeleton. He said he was feeling bad."

(credit: CBS)

Patton recounted for CBS4 filling out another official medical request that evening and taking it to a nearby deputy. He contends the jail deputy "kind of laughed it off and said he (Briones) was on borrowed time," referring to Briones' age.

Patton said he returned two more times before 10 p.m. pressing the same deputy for medical assistance for Briones. Asked what kind of medical attention Briones ultimately received that night, Patton said, "None. I was just trying to help him get medical attention. He just kept getting sicker. Looked like a sponge getting dried out. It was visible to everyone there."

Marciano Briones
Marciano Briones (credit: CBS)

Approximately three to four hours after Patton said he made those pleas for medical help which had no result, Briones got out of his bunk and tried to walk to the bathroom but collapsed and died.

Adams County coroner Monica Broncucia-Jordan told CBS4 preliminary indications are that Briones' death was caused by a gall bladder infection, but she said it would be weeks before a full autopsy report was available.

Dr. Joel S. Levine, a gastroenterologist with Denver Health Medical Center, said inflammation of the gall bladder usually lands most people in the emergency room.

"There is only one treatment -- it's a surgical problem," said Levine.

He said if properly diagnosed and treated, gall bladder surgery is routine and "the outcomes are excellent."

Dying from a gall bladder inflammation and subsequent infection is rare, according to Levine.

Dr. Joel S. Levine
Dr. Joel S. Levine, a gastroenterologist with Denver Health Medical Center (credit: CBS)

"If they are examined and there is tenderness, something should be done about it, and if something is done about it you prevent very bad outcomes. If untreated the person will die."

Briones' daughter, Maria, told CBS4 what happened at the jail "doesn't make sense. It just seems like it wasn't important to them."

Her brother Marc said, "Some minor attention could have saved our dad. We could have spent more time with him for 10 more years."

Inmate Patton is also left wondering, "If I could have called an ambulance I would have. I did everything I could have. I don't think it's fair an 85 (sic) year old gets a death sentence for a DUI."

The Adams County Sheriff's Office did not provide a timeline on when its internal investigation of Briones' death would be completed. But Morgen told the Denver Post the internal investigation results would not come until after the full autopsy results were available.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.