Lebanon, PA — Victoria ‘Tori’ Herr, 18, died in Lebanon County Correctional Facility after police refused to provide her with medical care for several days. Herr was addicted to heroin and began to go into withdrawal when she was thrown in a jail cell. While nothing will ever compensate for the loss of their daughter, the family was just awarded nearly $5 million after officers were found to have ignored her medical needs leading to her death and then lied to cover it up.
This is a situation that can be potentially deadly if not handled with care. Sadly, the corrections officers at the jail accused her of “faking,” and refused to get her medical care until it was too late.
“Anyone who looked at her would have known that she was very sick and that she needed attention,” said Jonathan Feinberg, a civil rights lawyer in Philadelphia who represents her family. “There was a complete disregard for her needs, which can only be tied back to the fact that she was addicted to drugs.”
As WKRN reports:
Victoria “Tori” Herr, 18, was arrested for the first time on March 27, 2015, after police looking for her boyfriend found drugs in their apartment. Herr told intake staff at the Lebanon County Correctional Facility she used 10 bags of heroin a day, and confided to a cellmate that she feared the withdrawal process would be tough.
She went through severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea over the next four days, and was given Ensure, water and adult diapers, according to the lawsuit. But she could not keep the fluids down and collapsed of apparent dehydration as she was being brought back to her cell from the medical unit on March 31. She died in a hospital on April 5.
According to the family, Tori may have been abused by the officers while she was in custody. On a petition page for Tori, a loved one mentioned the abuse, saying that,
“On arrival, she was not given a medical physical. No one addressed her addiction. She went into heroin withdrawal that turned out deadly. She had begged for help but was denied. The guards said she was faking. Before she was taken to a hospital, they abused and neglected her in horrific ways that are better left unsaid. She had laid in a coma for five days before she died on April 5th, Easter Sunday.”
According to the attorneys, despite the large settlement, no county employees acknowledged any wrongdoing whatsoever.
The police department said in a statement that “all protocols were followed” and that there was no wrong-doing in the girl’s death.
“At approximately 10:15 p.m. due to a medical emergency involving an inmate. Upon initial questioning of staff, all operational protocols appeared to be followed. The PA State Police were notified of this incident and responded as per procedure,” the on-staff officer’s report said.
Tori’s mother Stephanie Moyer last spoke with her on Monday, March 30 2015 after her arrest.
As TFTP reported, Moyer recalled to Lebanon Daily News at the time that “I was like, ‘Tori what happened?’ and she said, ‘I don’t know, mom. But I’m seeing people die. I’m going to die,’ And I said, ‘Tori, you are not going to die, honey, you are just going through withdrawal. And she said, ‘I’m so thirsty. I’m so thirsty. I just want lemonade. They won’t give me lemonade. Can you put money on my account?’ She said, ‘I’ve got to go,’ And I said, ‘Wait! How do I put money on your account?’ And she said, ‘I don’t know, maybe go into the jail. I’ve got to go.’ And that was the end of our conversation. It was the last time I talked to her.”
After that disturbing conversation, Moyer went to the jail to put money in her daughter’s commissary and to see if she was OK. She was told by officials at the prison that her daughter was in “quarantine” and that she would not be able to see her until the following week. Her parents returned the next day, not convinced that they were being told the whole story, but again they were turned away.
“I had concerns, I know Tori mentally. I knew this would be a huge thing to bear mentally and physically. Her physical condition just wasn’t that great. She was so thin and tiny. You know, just being an addict alone,” Moyer said.
After refusing to allow them to see their daughter for several more days, they got a message from Lebanon County prison Warden Robert Karnes who informed them that their daughter was in the hospital and in critical condition.
“She was in a coma, she had brain swelling. Her brain had swelled. They said they (the prison medical staff) did CPR on her for 33 to 40 minutes until they called 9-1-1. That’s what the doctor told us. So you do the math,” Moyer said.
Sadly, Tori was unable to recover from the coma and ended up dying as a result of her incarceration.
“Heroin in itself, you don’t die from withdrawal of heroin, but you do die if you are not given liquids and certain things because you are dehydrating, because they vomit and they are going to the bathroom all of the time, so they have to have fluids. Whether or not she got those fluids, I would venture to say no, because she died. Unless there is another reason why she died,” Moyer explained.
Hopefully Tori’s case serves to highly this insanity that is kidnapping people and locking them in a cage for an addiction problem. Illness cannot and will not ever be solved or treated through the barrel of a gun and Tori’s case serves as tragic evidence to prove this.