Joshue MessierJudge for yourself from this video showing the final moments of Joshua Messier’s 23 year-old life in state care.

After being restrained by all these big guards at Bridgewater State Hospital putting all their weight on him, you can see him turning blue and die.

Read for yourself today’s expose in the Boston Sunday Globe.

It begs the question: Was he killed by the state just for exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia?

As the video suggests, the man with diagnosed schizophrenia, here from a hospital for psychiatric evaluation for violent psychotic behavior in the first place, is having another episode, hearing voices, seeing visions, when state prison guards subdue him, hands and feet, in four-point restraint.

Ten minutes later, turning blue as his guards chat to each other beside him, he’s gone.

The explanation of the prison guards transcends belief. They know nothing about schizophrenia. They’ve had no meaningful training in mental health disorders. This at the state of Massachusetts’ prison for the mentally ill. (Despite its name, Bridgewater State Hospital is a medium-security prison.)

Of course they don’t. Why would they know the least about the most severe mental illness dealt with in psychiatry? They only have to face it every day.

Am I the only one who catches the cosmic irony of a man hospitalized for an illness being murdered, essentially, by the system meant to help him?

No Arrest, No Reprimand

Globe investigators couldn’t get to the bottom of why no one has been arrested, prosecuted or even reprimanded. (Internal Affairs cited two guards for putting pressure on a restrained inmate’s back, but that was it.)

Why? Because the state medical examiner called it homicide, then changed her mind.

Why? We don’t know that either. She wouldn’t respond to the Globe investigation, but it seems odd. It’s just extraordinarily unusual to have homicide listed as the cause of death with no additional court action.

The video shows medics were called when Messier’s pulse had stopped, and not before a crowd of guards  had been standing idly by, chatting as he lay dying.

In the surveillance video, two guards are also seen pushing down on his  back as he sits in handcuffs and leg irons on the bed, crunching his chest toward his knees.

The practice, known as suitcasing, is banned in Massachusetts prisons because it can cause suffocation.

The medical examiner called in for the autopsy found his heart had stopped beating during the guards’ effort to strap him down, but she couldn’t say exactly when.

Her autopsy also found internal bleeding on Messier’s brain, and blunt force injuries to his neck, torso, arms, and legs, suggesting that he was beaten before he was dragged into cell 13.

In the Globe piece, the prosecutor who won’t call a grand jury to consider a manslaughter charge comes across as the final word on weakling. Either that or a law enforcement authority trying to protect fellow law enforcement authorities, almost as a professional courtesy.

The bizarre unwillingness of Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz to at least call a grand jury to decide if a trial is warranted is so unusual that it’s raising eyebrows.

Cruz claims the medical examiner told him she couldn’t tell exactly when Messier expired during the ten minutes that he was turning shades of blue in cell 13.

All righty, then. So when it comes to mental illness, it’s the age old story: Close the curtain and darken the room. Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along.

Messier was there at the medium security prison, even though he had not been convicted of a crime.

Messier had been transferred after he allegedly assaulted three staffers at Harrington Memorial Hospital.

Misdemeanor assault and battery charges were filed against him and he was moved to Bridgewater for psychiatric evaluation.

His death is a tragedy for his parents who’ve managed to keep their own sanity throughout the ordeal. They’ve filed a wrongful death suit against the state of Massachusetts.

They said their late son was a normal boy with a sanguine outlook on life until he developed signs of schizophrenia in his second semester of college:  voices, paranoia, religious delusions, and in his case dancing mania and violence.

“I kept telling them it’s not a behavioral thing,” his mother Lisa Brown said. “He hit people because he thought they were the devil coming at him.”

 


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    Last reviewed: 17 Feb 2014

APA Reference
Tracey, P. (2014). Death of Man in Restraints Questioned. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/no-family-madder/2014/02/expose-questions-death-of-mass-man-in-state-care/

 

 

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