AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A former detainee is suing the for-profit private prison company that operates and manages the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Aurora after he broke his face on the toilet in his cell. Rene Lima-Marin claims he didn't receive proper medical attention while in federal custody.
Lima-Marin -- whose journey through Colorado's criminal justice system grabbed headlines for years in Colorado -- filed a lawsuit against The GEO Group and the United States earlier this month. Nearly two years ago to the day, Lima-Marin said he was in his cell wearing the "paper thin shower shoes" detainees are given. He explained he slipped on the slick linoleum floor and fell, striking his face against the steel toilet.
"I get up immediately and I look in the mirror and you can see the indentation in my face," he told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.
Lima-Marin said he told a guard immediately that he needed medical attention, but he said that didn't happen for more than an hour.
"The pain is ridiculous," he said, describing his wait. "I'm sweating, I'm shaking."
Eventually, he explained, staff took Lima-Marin to the hospital, where a UCHealth emergency room physician determined he had fractured multiple bones in his face and would need surgery within a week to avoid permanent impairment.
Yet Lima-Marin never got that procedure because he said ICE never brought him back to the hospital, nor did they give him the strong pain meds he was prescribed.
"They gave me some other medication that was nowhere near what I needed," Lima-Marin said. "I was in constant pain."
CBS4 reached out to The GEO Group for comment. A spokesperson released this statement:
"GEO strongly rejects these unfounded allegations, which are part of a continuous, coordinated effort to undermine federal immigration policies that our company plays no role in setting. The Processing Centers we manage on behalf of ICE are top-rated by independent accreditation entities, including the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, and provide high-quality residential care. For more than thirty years, we have been committed to providing a safe and secure environment for everyone in our care at the Aurora ICE Processing Center."
Lima-Marin strongly disagrees with their response. He said much of what happens inside the Aurora detention facility is "unjust."
"They're treating people inhumanely because they don't feel like they belong here and that they should go back to their country," he said.
That's part of the reason why he's filed a lawsuit claiming ICE breached its duty to ensure Lima-Marin received adequate medical care for his injuries.
"This wasn't a boo-boo," he said. "I had a severe incident take place to my face that needed surgery and they blew it off."
Because the bones in his face healed improperly, Lima-Marin explained, doctors will have to re-break his face so they can finally perform the needed surgery and the bones can heal correctly. Lima-Marin wants The GEO Group to pay for the procedure, along with other compensation for his pain and suffering.
"I just want what's fair," he said.
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