Man Held on Pot Charges Dies in Jail Cell After Food Allergies Ignored

In July of 2012, just four months before the citizens of Washington would vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, Michael Saffioti turned himself in to Snohomish County authorities after failing to meet a court date for a misdemeanor pot possession charge.

The 22-year-old was promptly booked into the Snohomish County Jail. Less than 24 hours later, he was dead.

Known to some as "bubble boy," Saffioti suffered from a life-threatening dairy allergy that required him to thoroughly verify the contents of each meal.

According to KIRO-TV, Snohomish County Jail guards had a medical file on Saffioti because of a previous jail sojourn, and should have been well aware of his condition.

Despite this, he was served a bowl of dairy-infused oatmeal for breakfast.

Within minutes of consuming his food, Saffioti began to experience the symptoms of an allergy attack.

Thirty-five minutes later he was unconscious.

All efforts by the jail's nurses to revive him proved futile, and he was pronounced dead a half hour later.

Despite claims to the contrary from jail officials, Saffioti's family has long insisted that footage from inside the jail would prove that guards ignored his initial concern over the presence of dairy in the oatmeal, and then his subsequent pleas for help once he started going into shock.

It took an entire year and the pressure of a multi-million dollar lawsuit, but officials ultimately confessed to the footage's existence and, this week, finally released it to the press following a public records request.

KIRO describes it contents:

The video shows Saffioti apparently discussing his food with the guard, servers and fellow inmates.

Eventually, he took a few bites.

"We know that he asked questions and made inquiries and he was assured the oatmeal in the food was safe for eating," Snow said.

Within a few minutes, Saffioti was back at the guard desk, using his inhaler.

According to the legal claim, he asked to see a nurse.

Instead, he was sent to his cell.

Over the next half hour, the video shows other inmates looking in Saffioti's cell as he jumped up and down.

An attorney for Saffioti's mother says Saffioti tried alerting guards to his situation but was told he was "faking" it. He later tried to alert them again by pressing his call button, but was, again, ignored.

"This video shows Michael clearly made his needs apparent, that his needs were ignored," said attorney Cheryl Snow. "Once he suffered distress he was further ignored."

According to Opposing Views, Saffioti joins seven other inmates who have died at the Snohomish County Jail over the last three years alone.

[screengrab via KIRO]