Patient Allegedly Kidnapped by State Hospital Staff

Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed in Denver Federal Court

A lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court in Denver alleging that a woman languishing in legal limbo at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP) was kidnapped by CMHIP staff and forcibly transported to a Denver area hospital to undergo a surgical procedure against her will.

Gabriele Gundlach, 57, of Boulder, was found incompetent to proceed by Boulder County Court in October 2011 in cases involving minor traffic-related offenses and was sent to CMHIP.         

While there, physical conditions requiring that she receive medical treatment were detected, including possible breast cancer.  Gundlach, who has never been found incompetent to make decisions concerning her own body, researched treatment options and medical facilities.  She arranged to receive treatment at Rose Medical Center and lined up funding to cover the cost.

However, Gundlach was told by CMHIP staff that University Hospital was the only facility to which CMHIP patients can be taken for medical treatment, and that patients are treated there at state expense.  These are “bare-faced lies,” according to the complaint filed in the district court by Gundlach’s lawyer, Boulder civil rights attorney Alison Ruttenberg.

Gundlach told CMHIP staff she would not consent to undergo treatment at University Hospital, explaining that for continuity of care reasons, Rose Medical Center would refuse to treat her if she received any part of the treatment for her condition at any other facility.  It also would not meet federal guidelines for funding her long-term care.  She also explained she had chosen a less invasive treatment option available only from a doctor at Rose.

In direct opposition to Gundlach’s wishes, CMHIP staff allegedly scheduled a surgical procedure for her at University Hospital without her consent or knowledge.  When Gundlach was finally informed, she cancelled the appointment.  Ruttenberg called CMHIP Assistant Superintendent Beverly Fulton, who allegedly assured the attorney that CMHIP would never transport Gundlach to a medical procedure she did not want.

But that is exactly what happened on the morning of January 3, 2013.  According to the lawsuit, CMHIP charge nurse Pamela Jones forced Gundlach to get out of bed and prepare to be transported.  Gundlach was driven under guard and against her will to University Hospital for a surgical procedure that had been cancelled and that, if administered, would have destroyed her chance to receive her preferred treatment from her chosen doctor at Rose Medical Center and to receive federal funding for her long-term care.

Because the CMHIP staff had no court order or other authority to transport her against her will, the civil rights complaint asks the U.S. District Court for damages from those responsible for kidnapping her and unlawfully seizing her body (under the color of law) for the purpose of having a surgical procedure performed that she did not want or consent to.  Color of law refers to an act done under the appearance of legal authority, when in fact no such right exists.  It further asks the court to declare it a violation of her Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from unlawful seizures of her body without due process of law.

Gundlach alleges she suffered enormous emotional distress.  She also says she was informed at University Hospital that she would have had to pay for the procedure herself if it had been done there.

According to Ruttenberg’s civil rights complaint, “Ms. Gundlach has a Constitutional right to refuse any medical procedure she does not want, and the bullies at CMHIP have no right to force her to undergo invasive surgical procedures that she refuses, for their financial convenience or otherwise.”

The complaint continues: “She has the capacity and ability to make an informed decision regarding what is going to happen to her body and who is or is not going to have the privilege of cutting into it.  Her decisions regarding the course of care for the suspected breast cancer are reasonable, rational and hers alone to make.”

When Gundlach arrived back at CMHIP, her psychiatrist, Myra Kamran, M.D., allegedly threatened Gundlach with having a guardian appointed who would agree to Gundlach being forced to have the medical procedure either at University Hospital or on-site at CMHIP.

(Myra Kamran is not currently listed on the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies website as a licensed physician or listed under any other licensed profession.  The Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Colorado has asked the Colorado Medical Board to investigate the matter.)

Again in violation of Gundlach’s rights, the medical procedure was scheduled to be performed on-site at CMHIP.  According to the lawsuit pending in Boulder County Court, on the morning of Monday, January 7, 2013, the charge nurse allegedly told Gundlach to get ready to be taken to the CMHIP clinic for the procedure.  Gundlach was left with the clear impression that she would be put in restraints to receive the procedure if she refused to cooperate.

It was only cancelled by last-minute intervention by a member of the Colorado chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, who called the Superintendent’s office to draw their attention to the civil rights lawsuit that had been faxed to the Superintendent the previous Friday evening.

The legal complaint alleges that the psychiatrist for Gundlach’s ward at CMHIP, Thomas Ingraham, M.D., admits Gundlach is not gravely ill, is not a danger to herself or others, and that he is not treating her for any illness or condition.

It further alleges Gundlach’s continuing, unlawful confinement at CMHIP is not only a violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, but is also life-threatening, and asks the court to order the woman’s immediate release.

Troubles Began with Minor Traffic-related Offenses

Gundlach’s troubles began when she was arrested in Boulder in 2010 and charged with minor traffic-related offenses after allegedly being involved in an auto accident. 

After telling Boulder County Court she did not want to be represented by the public defender with two large black eyes and a large lump on her forehead who visited her in jail, she was not provided with another public defender and subsequently represented herself pro se in court proceedings.  The lawsuit alleges that she never was properly advised of the charges against her or her right to a new attorney. 

In September 2011, the Court ordered a competency evaluation.  Based on a CMHIP psychiatrist’s report, the Court found Gundlach incompetent to proceed in her court cases and sent her to CMHIP in October 2011.

Six months later, during which time Gundlach refused psychiatric drugging, another evaluation at CMHIP found that Gundlach was competent to proceed and had a good understanding of her legal situation.

Inexplicably, however, her Boulder County public defender asked for yet another competency evaluation to be done.  Gundlach refused this and all subsequent attempts to re-evaluate her because she already had received a finding of competency.

Nevertheless, two subsequent competency reports, one by a psychiatrist and the other by a licensed psychologist at CMHIP, were sent to Boulder County Court, each concluding Gundlach was not competent to proceed.  According to the lawsuit, neither doctor ever interviewed or even met with Gundlach, who continued to refuse to be re-evaluated.

In October 2012, a third Boulder County public defender moved to terminate all criminal proceedings against Gundlach.  The motion was denied in December in Boulder County Court when the Boulder District Attorney wrongly represented to the Court that Gundlach was no longer refusing treatment, including medications, at CMHIP.

Not only was Gundlach continuing to refuse to be medicated at the time, but CMHIP in November 2012 sought a court order to forcibly drug Gundlach against her will.  The lawsuit alleges that the list of drugs Gundlach’s psychiatrist wanted to give her were variously at a dangerously high dosage, meant for mental or physical conditions for which Gundlach had never been diagnosed, or prescribed solely for the purpose of patient control, which is a violation of  ethical standards for physicians.  The motion for a hearing in Pueblo County Court on the issue of involuntary drugging was eventually withdrawn.

During this time, Gundlach contacted the Colorado chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which started an investigation of her complaint, following which three legal pleadings were filed in separate actions by Ruttenberg.

A petition filed in the Colorado Supreme Court for Gundlach’s immediate release was denied, apparently on jurisdictional grounds.

A renewed motion to dismiss charges against Gundlach is currently pending in Boulder County Court.  This motion additionally challenges the constitutionality of the state law [C.R.S. 16-8.5-116(1)] that permits a defendant to be incarcerated at the state hospital up to the maximum amount of time the person could be sentenced if convicted, when in actual practice a maximum sentence would not be imposed on each of multiple charges and would not be imposed consecutively.  Therefore because Gundlach is being held as mentally ill, CMHIP is interpreting the law to allow them to involuntarily incarcerate her for 33 months, which is from 21 to 30 months longer than for someone who is not held at CMHIP.

Gundlach’s plight has been made worse by the fact that neither she nor her attorney have been given access to legal records relating to her court cases.  The civil rights complaint pending in U.S. District Court in Denver cites Debra Cross, Clerk of the Boulder County Combined Courts, for her unconstitutional policies of denying Ruttenberg, as Gundlach’s counsel of record, access to any portion of Gundlach’s prior court file, and asks the court for relief.  It further asks the court to declare that Crosser’s refusal to ensure that Gundlach’s legal mail is sent to her at CMHIP instead of her prior home address, then throwing it into the court file when it is returned as undeliverable, violates Gundlach’s constitutional rights to due process and access to the courts. 

The complaint pleads that Gundlach’s “continued incarceration at the CMHIP without due process, without a hearing, given the fact that she is competent, is not only unconstitutional, it is life-threatening.”

If you or someone you know has experience with the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

Sleeping Patient Stabbed In Eyes At Pueblo Psychiatric Institute

 

Image by Cyril Bosselut
Image by Cyril Bosselut

An act of violence at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo has cost a patient one eye and possibly her sight in the other.

According to the Pueblo Chieftain, a sleeping female patient was stabbed in the eyes and face with scissors last Wednesday by another patient at the state psychiatric facility.  Both were living in a unit that houses patients that psychiatrists have deemed ready to be transitioned back into society.

Police have arrested Lamar Del Ray Davis on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder.

According to an affidavit, Davis said he was feeling “aggressive” and “just wanted to lash out at somebody.”

While it is not known what psychiatric drugs, if any, Davis was taking (or was in withdrawal from) at the time of the attack, mind-altering drugs widely used by psychiatrists at CMHIP and other psychiatric facilities are known to have adverse effects that include aggression, acts of violence, and homicidal thoughts.

If you or someone you know has been harmed in a psychiatric facility or by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

Research studies, warnings from international regulatory authorities, and reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the harmful side effects of psychiatric drugs can be accessed through CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effects search engine.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue psychiatric drugs is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Shocking Video Released Of Man Suffocating in Prone Restraint

Man Struggles In Vain To Breathe While Strapped Down at Pueblo Psych Hospital.

RestraintsCall7 Investigators in Denver obtained the surveillance video of a man, strapped face down in restraints and left alone in an isolation room, struggling for air and slowly suffocating at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

CMHIP staff are seen forcibly putting the man in prone restraint, then leaving the room.  They fail to monitor him adequately during his fatal asphyxiation.

Troy Geske, 41, was obese and suffering from a respiratory infection when he was forced face down on a table, then held down by four CMHIP staff while being strapped so tightly that he is unable to move, his own weight pressing down on his lungs.  During the take-down, one employee is seen pressing Geske’s face onto the table, and another has his elbow in Geske’s back, further impairing the man’s attempts to breathe at a time he was clearly panicked and in need of oxygen.

The reason for the restraint that ultimately led to this cruel and inhumane death?  Geske was refusing to take the psychiatric drug(s) staff were trying to administer to him.

The state had gone to court to try to block release of this shocking video.

Just as shocking is the fact that a Pueblo grand jury failed to return any criminal indictments against any of the staff involved.  (See our article, “You Be The Judge: Pueblo Grand Jury Returns Findings In Death of State Hospital Patient.”)

The Call7 Investigators report and video can be seen by clicking here.  WARNING:  This an extremely disturbing video.

If you or someone you know has been put in restraints at a psychiatric facility or has any experience with CMHIP, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

Pueblo School District Fails To Explicitly Prohibit Teachers From Pushing Psychiatric Drugs

Policy Protecting Schoolchildren Has Been Required By State Law Since 2003

Pueblo City Schools is apparently in no hurry to adopt policy safeguarding children that has been required by state law since 2003.

An examination of Pueblo City Schools Board policy by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Colorado (CCHR) found that the School Board is in violation of state law by not having adopted policy explicitly prohibiting school personnel from recommending or requiring psychiatric drugs for any student.

CCHR first brought the noncompliance to the attention of the office of Superintendent Maggie Lopez on June 6, following guidelines set by the Colorado Department of Education.  Since that time, agendas for the school district’s Board of Education meetings – including the meeting scheduled for this evening – have not included any mention of action on adoption of this policy.

Several readings of a policy are required at Board of Education meetings before it can be adopted for Pueblo City Schools.  Thus, it appears that some 23,000 schoolchildren in the district will be starting yet another school year without this statutory protection in place.

C.R.S. 22-32-109(1)(ee) requires school district Boards of Education to adopt policy “to prohibit school personnel from recommending or requiring the use of a psychotropic drug for any student.”

The law further requires policy that “School personnel shall not test or require a test for a child’s behavior without prior written permission from the parents or guardians or the child and prior written disclosure as to the disposition of the results or the testing therefrom.”

The law was passed by the Colorado State Legislature eight years ago to protect against teachers, principals and other school personnel pressuring parents to put their children on psychiatric drugs.  These mind-altering drugs carry dangerous, even life-threatening side effects.  (Adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs, as detailed in research studies, warnings from international regulatory authorities and reports to the FDA, can be accessed through CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effect search engine.)

Psychiatric drugs also do not address the real, underlying problem(s) the child is experiencing, which may be a lack of additional instructional help, poor nutrition, or an undiagnosed physical condition.

CCHR has sent Colorado Open Records Act requests to school districts throughout the state, requesting copies of the policy or policies that comply with this state law.

To date, CCHR has identified 21 school districts that did not have Board policy with the clear language of C.R.S. 22-32-109(1)(ee).  Twenty of the 21 districts indicated to CCHR that steps were immediately being taken to remedy the long-standing non-compliance with state law.

Only Pueblo City Schools has been vague about when it will adopt the required statutory language.

Pueblo is home to the psychiatric drugging center known as the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

Because a response from the superintendent was unclear as to when Pueblo Schools will act to bring its policy into compliance with the 2003 law, CCHR forwarded a complaint directly to the president of the Pueblo City Schools Board of Education, again following guidelines set by the Colorado Department of Education.

If you or someone you know has been pressured by school personnel to put a child on psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

Pueblo DA Skeptical of Changes At Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo

Says Whole Scrapping Of The Culture Is Needed.

Pueblo County District Attorney Bill Thiebaut publicly expressed his skepticism of claims by the Colorado Department of Human Services that improvements have occurred at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP) in the wake of a patient death there last August.

According to the Pueblo Chieftain, Thiebaut said “I don’t have a lot of confidence that there’s been a change out there.”  He went on to say that change would require a whole scrapping of the culture at CMHIP.

“We have a culture that has permeated the institution for years,” Thiebaut said.

That culture was the focus of a report issued by a Pueblo County grand jury that investigated the August 2010 death of patient Troy Geske.  The 41-year-old, who was obese and suffering from a respiratory infection, suffocated while being restrained face down and left unattended in a seclusion room at the facility for refusing to take psychiatric drug(s) prescribed to him.  See a summary of that report in our article “You Be The Judge: Pueblo Grand Jury Returns Findings In Death of State Hospital Patient.”

“The grand jury said things need to change from the top down,” Thiebaut continued.

Geske had been readmitted to CMHIP in July 2010 because he was experiencing mental symptoms that included auditory hallucination, depression, worsening confusion and aggressive behavior.

All of these behaviors are side effects of psychiatric drugs.  Geske’s ultimate death while under the control of CMHIP staff may well have been the direct result of the psychiatric drugs he was prescribed by psychiatrists at CMHIP – drugs that he was struggling to refuse at the time of his death, drugs he may well have known were destroying him.

Adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs, as detailed in research studies, warnings from international regulatory authorities and reports to the FDA, can be accessed through CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effect search engine.

   If you have experience with “the culture” at CMHIP, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

State Psychiatric Facilities Abuse Emergency Drugging

State Audit Finds Lack of Documentation Supporting Involuntary Drugging Of Patients

Patients in the state psychiatric facilities at Pueblo and Fort Logan were drugged against their will without sufficient documentation to justify the action, according to an audit report just released by the Colorado Office of the State Auditor.

The review of some patient files at the Colorado Mental Health Institutes at Pueblo and Fort Logan found that a number of them “lacked sufficient clinical documentation to substantiate that a psychiatric emergency existed warranting an emergency medication order.”

Additionally, the audit uncovered patients whose legal rights were violated when they were involuntarily drugged on a claimed emergency basis for more than 72 hours without the proper documentation of a second opinion and/or a written request for a court hearing, as required by state law.

The report further criticized the psychiatric institutions for lacking documentation to substantiate that the condition of patients warranted psychiatrists’ petitions to courts for, or their continued use of, court-ordered involuntary drugging.

Some patients’ current medications were not discontinued before they were involuntarily drugged on a claimed emergency basis, which resulted in patients having two sets of drugging orders in effect at the same time, with an increased risk to them of serious side effects.

Significantly Higher Error Rates in Administering Drugs

Average error rates in administering drugs in 2010 were significantly higher at the Institutes than the average rate for a comparable peer group of facilities.  Specifically, Fort Logan averaged 4.50 errors per 100 drugging episodes, and Pueblo 4.93, as compared to an average of 2.71 in facilities in the peer group.

Further, there were cases in which the psychiatrist ordered two or three psychiatric drugs, including antipsychotics, on an as-needed basis for the same condition without sufficient documentation substantiating the need for multiple medications.

According to the report, several patients were found to have been put on the drug clozapine, an antipsychotic that has a potentially life-threatening side effect, without clear and sufficient documentation that less risky treatments had been tried first.

The psychiatric institutions also failed to do recommended medical follow-up on a number of patients to test for the dangerous side effects of certain antipsychotic drugs, such as the metabolic monitoring recommended by the American Diabetes Association for patients on certain antipsychotic drugs with well-known links to the onset of diabetes.

The facilities were found to have inconsistent guidelines and monitoring protocols for administering high-risk drugs, and in some cases, established guidelines were not followed.

The full audit report, “Psychiatric Medication Practices for Adult Civil Patients, Colorado Mental Health Institutes,” is posted in the June 2011 reports of the Office of the State Auditor.

If you or someone you know has experience with the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo or Fort Logan, we want to talk to you.  Please contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept strictly confidential.  We also welcome your comments below.

 

Pueblo Grand Jury Returns Findings In Death of State Hospital Patient

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

A Pueblo grand jury has found official wrongdoing, but no criminal conduct in the death of a patient at the Colorado Institute of Mental Health at Pueblo (CMHIP) last August. Troy Geske, who was obese and suffering from a respiratory infection, suffocated while being restrained face down and left unattended in a seclusion room at the facility after refusing to take psychiatric drug(s) prescribed to him.

According to the grand jury report, staff at the institution committed “misfeasance and malfeasance with regard to a governmental function, and abused their authority resulting in the death of Mr. Geske.” Malfeasance includes the failure to perform a legal duty or the violation of state laws or rules. But the grand jury declined to hand down any indictment, which could have included a charge of criminal negligence.

Geske reportedly was taken to a seclusion room after he resisted taking prescribed psychiatric drug(s). There he was put facedown in prone restraint, with leather straps binding his arms and legs to a  gurney, and an additional leather strap across his torso to hold him down. He was then left alone in the room and was improperly monitored by staff outside the room. He slowly suffocated during nearly 10 minutes of struggling to breathe while in restraint.

While it is not known what psychiatric drug(s) Geske had refused, he reportedly had been re-admitted to CMHIP from a community placement in July for hallucinations, confusion, passive-combative behavior and depression. All of these conditions are common and well-known side effects of drugs routinely prescribed to psychiatric patients. (For more information on the dangerous side effects of psychiatric drugs, click here.) It is unknown what psychiatric drugs he was taking when he was readmitted, what increased dosages or additional drugs he may have been prescribed after being readmitted, or what side effects may have led him to refuse to take the drug(s).

The incompetence and extreme indifference of CMHIP staff towards Geske in the final minutes of his life were cited in the grand jury report, according to Denver’s 7News and the Pueblo Chieftain:

• “The staff member controlling the patient’s torso was using a disapproved control technique by using his forearm to apply pressure to the patient’s back during the entire restraint process,” while at the same time “Mr. Geske appeared to be struggling by trying to lift his head and torso off the bed” to breathe.

• “During the process of applying the restraints, a staff member used inappropriate pressure to the back of the patient’s head, holding his face at or near the surface of the mattress” on the gurney.

• Once restrained and unable to move or breathe sufficiently, Geske was left alone in the room, with staff failing to monitor him carefully: “It is apparent that Mr. Geske was not under direct observation at all times.”

• When staff finally realized Geske had stopped breathing, they rushed into the room but had difficulty undoing the restraints, losing precious time before CPR was started and a defibrillator used, both ultimately unsuccessful.

• Metal shears that were supposed to be available in the room to cut the leather restraints were not used “because staff either were unaware of their location or believed the shears were locked at the nursing station.”

• When staff tried giving Geske oxygen, the oxygen tank was empty. The report said, “CMHIP policy mandated oxygen tanks be tested every shift and documentation showed the tank in use had been checked off as full during the previous shift.”

• The report stated that “it appeared that no one had authority to assume – or did not assume – control of the efforts to revive Mr. Geske.”

The grand jury report concludes that “there was a systematic failure to adequately train staff, to insure staff followed policies for seclusion and restraint and patient safety related thereto, and to disseminate safety information concerning restraint procedures that was readily available, and if put into practice would have prevented the death of Mr. Geske.”

While insufficient funding or staffing continue to be blamed for ongoing problems at CMHIP, the grand jury report “finds the problems leading to Mr. Geske’s death could have been corrected with little or no impact” to CMHIP’s budget.

The grand jury also found overarching failures at CMHIP: “Public servants of the CMHIP breached their duty of care to adequately train its employees,” to “effectively communicate,” “effectively document evidence for patient care,” and “effectively investigate the death of Mr. Geske.”

CMHIP’s own investigation of the incident was reportedly carried out by a member of the facility’s public safety department, who himself had taken part in the restraint of Geske. While two top officials of the public safety department testified they didn’t believe the investigator had a conflict of interest, the grand jury disagreed. It found that the investigator never interviewed all the staff involved in the incident and did not even review the video surveillance of the incident before completing the investigation report.

Prone restraint had been banned by the Colorado Department of Human Services in its Division of Developmental Disabilities, but the rest of the divisions within the department were not notified that the procedure was banned until after Geske’s death. Other state departments, including the Department of Corrections and the Department of Education, have not banned prone restraints.

The grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing, so no one involved in the incident has been criminally charged.

Linda Stephens, mother of Troy Geske, made it clear that no one person could be blamed for her son’s death because they were all responsible. “It was the system [at CMHIP] that killed my son.”

What do you think? Did the Pueblo grand jury come to the right conclusion?

Restraint “procedures” are the most visible evidence of the barbaric practices that psychiatrists choose to call therapy or treatment. For more information on restraints, click here.

If you or someone you know was put in restraints in a psychiatric facility or has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, you can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

Man Died in Restraints at Colorado State Psychiatric Hospital

CMHIP withholds data requested by the district attorney and county coroner

An obese man who died in the custody of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP) suffocated while being restrained face down on a table. He may have been hog-tied.

Troy Allen Geske, 41, died August 10 at the psychiatric institution. An affidavit for a search warrant says that Geske died after he was put in four-point restraint, in which the feet are attached to the hands behind the back.

A spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Human Services, which oversees the psychiatric facility, denied Geske was in four-point restraint. But Pueblo County District Attorney Bill Thiebaut said the information in the affidavit is corroborated by evidence that has been collected, including video of Geske in restraints, according to the Pueblo Chieftain:
http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_f75a23c2-b72f-11df-9494-001cc4c002e0.html
http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_59e5ca9c-b653-11df-8d64-001cc4c002e0.html

At 5-feet-8 and 265 pounds, Geske was at greater risk of “positional asphyxiation” when he was restrained on his stomach with his own weight pressing down on his lungs and diaphragm. Federal law requires constant, close monitoring of anyone face down in restraints to prevent suffocation.

The results of an autopsy and toxicology tests have not yet been released.

After Geske’s death, hospital police could have called in the 10th Judicial District’s critical incident team (CIT) for an independent investigation of the incident by a team of investigators from outside law enforcement agencies, but did not do so, according to the Pueblo Chieftain: http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_b4e5d92e-b7f1-11df-abf2-001cc4c002e0.html

The CIT investigates serious incidents involving police officers under an agreement to which CMHIP is a party. Hospital police were reportedly present when staff attempted to revive Geske.

CMHIP has also refused to turn over certain information requested by investigators. District Attorney Thiebaut says he will go to court if necessary to get information he believes his office is entitled to, according to the Chieftain.

For more than 40 years, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has advocated against any form of psychiatric treatment that is torturous, cruel, inhuman or degrading, as laid out in its Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights.

Another Death at Troubled State Psychiatric Institution in Pueblo

Facility received 1,100 patient complaints in 2008-09, reported 11 patient deaths in 2009

Another person has died while in the custody of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP), according to the Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_15822489. The cause of death of 41-year-old Troy Allen Geske, who died several days ago, will not be known until an autopsy is complete.

His death is being closely followed because of recent revelations of other deaths at the psychiatric facility, including the suicide of Sergio Taylor.  An autopsy report indicated 23-year-old Taylor died of asphyxiation in September 2009 after complaining about conditions at the CMHIP.  He was found by law enforcement officers under blankets with a plastic bag over his head in a supposedly high-security area of the psychiatric facility.  About a month earlier, Taylor and 19 other patients had signed a petition that said, “The sense of hopelessness has set in….  History has shown here…that when patients are feeling bored, hopeless and warehoused, …assault and suicide attempts transpire.”

As a direct result of Taylor’s death and citing concerns that other patients could die, the Colorado Department of Health conducted an immediate investigation of CMHIP in October 2009, according to The Denver Channel (KMGH): http://www.thedenverchannel.com/print/24085289/detail.html. In its report, the health department found patients at the state hospital in Pueblo to be in “immediate jeopardy” and detailed serious errors by the institution’s staff.  The department conducted an unannounced inspection of the facility again this past May.

CALL7 investigators from The Denver Channel, who have been reporting on deaths at the state hospital for months, also uncovered the death of another patient of the CMHIP, whose death was never reported to the state health department by CMHIP.  Josh Garcia died after being overdrugged and neglected by staff at the psychiatric institution.  According to his family, Garcia was given a number of powerful psychiatric drugs and suffered serious adverse effects, including severe abdominal pain.  He complained to the staff but was ignored, according to his family.  By the time Garcia was taken to a hospital, it was too late.  His bowels burst, severe infection set in, and he was brain dead within hours.  His family sued and recently received a settlement from the state over his death.

The Colorado Legislative Audit Committee has also called for repeated investigations of the CMHIP in recent years, due to complaints it receives.  In a report released in December 2009, the Office of the State Auditor found numerous deficiencies in the operations of the CMHIP that compromised safety and proved costly to the state.  Among these deficiencies, the institution did not adequately record, investigate or resolve patient complaints.  For 25 percent of the 1,100 patient complaints relating to staff behavior and quality of treatment issues the facility recorded in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the database did not even contain the names of the 270 staff members who were the subject of the complaints.  The report also revealed that there were 11 patient deaths at the facility last year, the highest number in the three years covered in the report.  How many of those were suicides, besides the suicide of Sergio Taylor, is unknown.  Another audit is underway currently, again at the request of state legislators, to determine if there are other patients who have died of neglect at the state psychiatric hospital.

The CMHIP also has a history of failing to keep the public safe from the mentally ill housed there who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity in connection with serious crimes.  Nine such patients escaped in 2009, with patient escapes at a three-year high.