Tyler Tabor died on May 17, 2015, at the Adams County Sheriff's Detention Facility in Brighton, Colorado, after only three days of incarceration (video below).
Tyler's father, Ray Tabor, said in a video produced by law firm Killmer, Lane & Newman that his son started taking prescription painkillers, and "kinda got hooked on them."
Tyler's addiction to opioid painkillers transitioned to opioid-based heroin and Xanax, a prescription medication for anxiety.
After his arrest on two misdemeanor warrants on May 14, Tyler's parents decided not to bail him out of jail in hopes that jail would keep him away from heroin, notes Mother Jones.
"I felt like if we don't keep him in here, that we will lose him," Tyler's mother, Michele McLean, stated in the law firm's video.
Tabor died of dehydration, according the coroner, but the Tabor family believes the dehydration was caused by their son's drug withdrawal and a lack of medical care at the jail.
The family has filed a lawsuit against Adams County and the private company that was contracted to provide health care for the jail, Corizon Health. Attorney David Lane is representing the Tabor family, Westword reported in October 2015.
When Tyler was booked into the jail, he told a nurse at the facility that he was using Xanax and shooting heroin every day.
According to the family's lawsuit, Tabor was going through serious drug withdrawal, and his symptoms during his first day in jail included dehydration, diarrhea, low blood pressure and vomiting.
By the second day, Tabor was reportedly in such bad shape he could not unclench his fingers or walk. A nurse gave him a mixture that included over-the-counter products such as Gatorade and Pepto Bismol.
Ray recalled how his son was desperate to get an IV of fluids because he could not hold liquids down.
"Tyler was very sick, ringing the button in the jail for 12-15 times, begging for help, begging for IVs," his father said.
According to the family's lawsuit, Tabor was allegedly told by the jail that IVs were only given when "absolutely necessary." He died six hours later, on May 17.
"A simple IV would have almost certainly saved his life," the lawsuit states,
The jail declined to comment, while Corizon Health denied any wrongdoing: "What makes good medical sense and good business sense is proactive preventive care -- intervening early to treat conditions before they become serious and more costly to treat."
Martha Harbin, a spokesperson for Corizon Health, called the accusations in the lawsuit "inconsistent with the known facts." She added, "It certainly is not our policy to deny a patient appropriate and indicated treatment."
Few people die from the symptoms of opiate withdrawal outside of jails because IV fluids will usually prevent a person from dying.
Kevin Fiscella, who sits on the board of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, told Mother Jones: "What's happening in jails, it's kind of a natural experiment to see what happens. And in fact some people do die."
Sources: Mother Jones, Westword, Killmer, Lane & Newman Law Firm via MotherJones/YouTube / Photo credit: Tabor Family via Mother Jones