The family of a young woman who struggled with opioid addiction and whose moving obituary went viral is suing a Massachusetts city and police department for information about the woman’s medical care in the days before her death.
Madelyn Linsenmeir, a 30-year-old Vermont mother, died after she was arrested in September by Springfield police on outstanding warrants and providing a false name, according to a police arrest log.
The ACLU of Massachusetts is suing the city and its police department on behalf of Linsenmeir’s family, asking for documents and recordings related to her arrest, detention and death.
“Our family is heartbroken to have lost our beloved Madelyn,” the family said, according to the ACLU.
Springfield Police Department spokesman Ryan Walsh and city Deputy Communications Director Darryl Moss told CNN the department is investigating the matter but had no comment on the lawsuit.
Ominous text messages
The lawsuit shares text messages between Linsenmeir and her family on September 28 showing the state of her health just before her arrest.
“I need to go to the hospital I am dying i weigh 90 pounds,” she texted Maureen Linsenmeir. “mom I need you.”
Later that day she texted her sister. “I just need to get help go to the hospital.”
The lawsuit alleges that at the time of her arrest, Linsenmeir was allowed to call her mother with a Springfield police officer on the line. The suit alleges that Madelyn Linsenmeir was distraught and told her mother that she was not receiving medical attention.
“As the conversation progressed, the police officer refused to provide medical attention and even made a sarcastic comment to Maureen (Madelyn’s mother) after Maureen expressed concern that Madelyn was being denied care,” the complaint claims.
The ACLU is looking to obtain a possible recording of this conversation, as well as other requested information and documents police have not turned over.
Linsenmeir was arrested September 29 and transferred to a women’s correctional facility the next morning, Walsh confirmed to CNN.
On October 4, Linsenmeir was taken by ambulance to the Baystate Medical Center where she was admitted to the intensive care unit. On October 7, Linsenmeir died at the hospital, still technically in police custody and surrounded by family.
The woman’s correctional facility was operated by the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department.
Shortly after her death, Hampden County Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi told CNN in a statement that he was saddened by her death and wanted to “extend my sympathies to her family.” He added that she was “under the evaluation and supervision of our correctional and medical team.” The department was not named in the suit and had no further comment.
’What about the rest of the victims’
Her obituary was shared on Facebook, and her sister asked supporters to donate money to the treatment center she had turned to for help.
In her Vermont hometown, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo posted on Facebook in October after seeing reactions to her obituary saying Linsenmeir’s addiction and death were being treated as though nothing like this had happened before.
“Did readers think this was the first time a beautiful, young, beloved mother from a pastoral state got addicted to Oxy and died from the descent it wrought?” he wrote. “And what about the rest of the victims, who weren’t as beautiful and lived in downtrodden cities or the rust belt? They too had mothers who cried for them and blamed themselves.”
Del Pozo wrote that he was tired of arguing with sheriffs at national conferences about their deputies having to carry naloxone, the opioid antagonist that can save people who are overdosing.
“Maddie’s gone. She can’t feel your sorrow. But others are next,” del Pozo wrote. “They are all human beings and they need our help. Go. Get to work.”
One of Linsenmeir’s last public posts on her Facebook page is a black and white selfie taken in the car from August.
“Enjoying this beautiful day,” she wrote.
Below the photo are comments from across the country. Some share stories of loved ones who died after struggling with opioid addictions, and others simply leave kind messages.
On his Facebook page, del Pozo’s final line to those who were moved by Linsenmeir’s obituary: “We still need to earn the feelings her obituary inspired in us. We should have felt them years ago.”