2 EMTs arraigned, cop fired over Westland lockup death
Dearborn Heights — A sergeant with the Westland Police Department and two paramedics were arraigned Thursday on charges stemming from the 2017 cocaine overdose death of a jail inmate who was in police custody.
Sgt. Ronald Buckley, 54, paramedic Matt Dicosola, 50, and paramedic Leah Maynard, 36, face identical felony charges — involuntary manslaughter via failure to perform a legal duty, and misconduct in office — for their roles in the Dec. 10, 2017, death of William Marshall, 36, at Westland's city jail.
Their arraignments were held before Judge Mark Plawecki at 20th District Court in Dearborn Heights. All three were each released on a $50,000 personal bond. A preliminary examination is scheduled for Dec. 17.
Also Thursday, Westland Police said in a statement it had terminated Buckley's employment with the department after completing an internal investigation into the death.
"The internal investigation revealed that Sergeant Buckley violated policies and procedures of the Westland Police Department," the statement said.
In addition, it said the department "would like to again offer our sincere apology to the William Marshall family."
Officials also said the department has implemented changes to its policies and procedures for incarceration, "has provided additional training to its employees and will continue to do so to ensure something like this never happens again."
Police said Marshall had been arrested for a driving offense and drug possession.
Authorities noted a “white powdered substance" on the side of his mouth, but Marshall said it was from a doughnut and denied having used drugs. Police say he spoke and walked “normally” during the stop.
About 10 minutes later while going into the jail, "(Marshall) did not report any medical issues and appeared to be in good health,” said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, at a press conference Monday announcing the charges.
But a little more than an hour later, at 7:51 a.m., Marshall "began convulsing, having muscle spasms and was unable to walk.”
Other inmates in the jail asked officials to help Marshall, Worthy said. Buckley, a jail commander, called EMS.
Paramedics arrived about 10 minutes later and found Marshall on the floor of the cell and dragged him from the cell to the hallway, Worthy said.
Worthy alleges that “neither paramedic took vital signs ... performed a medical assessment or medically intervened in any manner.”
Minutes later, Marshall was placed back in his cell, still convulsing, and an inmate tried to assist him, Worthy said.
Worthy says one paramedic suggested transporting Marshall to the hospital in case he had swallowed something, but in the end “concluded he was not having a seizure.”
Buckley then allegedly dismissed the paramedics, at about 8:10 a.m., and allegedly ignored Marshall’s convulsions almost 20 minutes later.
By 9:17 a.m., Marshall was motionless, and 10 minutes later, after Buckley saw him like this, the sergeant had another officer drag him from his cell to the hall, where they administered CPR and used a defibrillator, Worthy said.
By 9:40 a.m., the paramedics returned, and he was pronounced dead after being transported to an area hospital.
Asked whether the paramedics were in position to contradict a police officer, Worthy said the two “(had) a duty, regardless of what any police officer says,” to render aid.
“We feel they’re criminally responsible,” Worthy added.
After the arraignment, Marshall’s loved ones took issue with the personal bond, which only has to be paid if and when a defendant does not make a court appearance.
Kalice Sims speaks after a police sergeant and two paramedics were arraigned in the death of William Marshall. Daniel Mears, The Detroit News
Kalice Sims had been dating Marshall “nine, almost 10 years” before his death, she said. Sims says it was “hard, extremely hard” to see the people who allegedly could’ve saved her fiancé from an untimely death — even if it was only through a video screen.
“He asked and pleaded for help,” Sims said, help that allegedly never came. She attributed the lack of help to a “power thing” with police.
“They think they can treat us like animals, like nothing,” Sims said.
Buckley’s attorney, Kathleen Griffith, said at the bond hearing that “there is not a lot of basis for these charges” before asking a personal bond for her client, a cop of 28 years who she said had received numerous honors for his police work and had “no criminal history whatsoever.”
Dicosola’s attorney described his client as “pretty much a Boy Scout” and expressed that he “intend(ed) to vigorously contest” the case. He asked the judge that Dicosola be allowed to take a pre-planned trip to Chicago later in the month. With no objection from the prosecution, the judge acceded the request.
Maynard’s attorney, Mike Rataj, said his client has no criminal history, is both a paramedic and a firefighter, and had turned herself in.
Sims took issue with the defendants being given personal bond, arguing that if a civilian were similarly charged, they’d have to pay cash.
Marshall’s younger brothers, Demond Marshall, 33, and Allen Turner, 34, agreed.
“They should’ve never given them a personal bond,” Marshall said. “They should’ve gotten the same thing we would get if we was in that predicament. You’d (give) me a high bond, why not them?”
“They should have been treated like regular people,” Turner said. “When you’re facing very serious charges, that’s what’s supposed to happen.”
Marshall's family settled its civil claim with the city of Westland this year for $3.75 million.