Woman who lost baby sues KC police who ignored her pleas for medical help during arrest
The Associated Press
Related Story: Mo. officers suspended in Salva case
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A woman who lost her premature baby a day after she was thrown in jail is suing the police department and two arresting officers who repeatedly ignored her pleas for medical help.
A police videotape released Tuesday shows Sofia Salva telling officers numerous times last Feb. 5 that she was pregnant, bleeding and needed to go to a hospital.
After the ninth request, the tape shows, a female officer asked: "How is that my problem?"
Salva was held overnight on traffic violations and outstanding city warrants. After being released the next morning, she delivered a premature baby boy who died immediately after birth, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Salva sued officers Melody Spencer and Kevin Schnell and the department for wrongful death, personal injuries and failure to provide medical assistance. Salva is seeking actual damages exceeding $25,000 and punitive damages.
"The officers went into this with a preconceived idea of who and what they were dealing with, and they were wrong," said Salva's attorney, Andrew Protzman.
The videotape was released to the media after The Kansas City Star requested it under Missouri's open records law.
Police have opened an internal investigation, Capt. Rich Lockhart said.
"It's a matter of trust. ... We want to make sure the community trusts us to get to the bottom of this regardless of the way it reflects on the police department," Lockhart said.
No telephone numbers are listed for the two officers, and a representative of their union, the Kansas City Police Officers' Association, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
The officers stopped Salva after they saw her placing a fake temporary tag on the back window of her car.
The tape shows Salva telling the officers she is having a miscarriage and is bleeding.
On the tape, an officer identified as Schnell, who has worked for the department for less than two years, walks away from the car and tells his partner: "She just gave me a line of excuses. She said she's bleeding. She said you can check her."
Salva said: "I'm three months pregnant and I'm bleeding."
The officer identified as Spencer, a four-year veteran, replied: "OK. Why are you driving to the store and then putting a fake temporary tag in your car?"
"I took it because I want to go to the hospital," Salva said.
The officers made Salva sit on the curb while they searched her car, purse and grocery bags.
Salva again told the officers she was bleeding and needed to go to a hospital.
"Well," Spencer said, "that will be something you can take care of when we get done with you."
The officers handcuffed Salva after learning she had outstanding warrants for mistreatment of children, trespassing and several traffic violations.
She again told Schnell she was bleeding.
"I don't doubt that you're possibly bleeding, but you got a lot more problems with us," Schnell said.
No tapes were available of Salva's time in the jail, but she contends in the lawsuit that her continued pleas for help were ignored. The department said videotapes from that period had been recycled before it became aware of Salva's claims.