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A woman died at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center on Wednesday night – the latest of several inmates to die while detoxing from drugs or alcohol while in custody, according to an attorney representing her family.
April Trujillo, 41, is the 18th person to die in MDC custody since the beginning of 2020.
In August – around the same time another inmate died while detoxing in custody – an expert tasked with assessing medical care at the jail as part of a settlement agreement found that medical staff was out of compliance with protocols for screening and managing withdrawal symptoms. He said the number of assessments done by each nurse is “very high, impacting quality and increasing risk.”
Larry Gallegos, a Bernalillo County spokesman, said around 7:23 a.m. Wednesday jail staff was called because Trujillo was in medical distress. He said after numerous life-saving attempts she died.
Trujillo had been arrested and charged with possessing a controlled substance three days before her death. However, the case had been dismissed without prejudice – meaning the charges could have been refiled – the day before she died.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, an officer found Trujillo with a pipe, foil and lighter in her hand in the parking lot of Total Wine in Uptown. She also had a “round small blue pill partially melted” the officer said, adding that she believed it was fentanyl.
On Nov. 29, the state dismissed the case “due to an insufficient amount of suspected controlled substance available for scientific testing by both parties.”
When asked why Trujillo was still in jail if the case had been dismissed, Gallegos said “that information is part of the investigation going on at this time.”
He said MDC’s Office of Professional Standards and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the death, which is standard procedure.
Gallegos issued a news release Friday asking for the public’s help finding Trujillo’s family members.
However, attorney Parrish Collins said her parents and three children – ages 15, 18 and 22 – had already been notified by the Office of the Medical Investigator on Wednesday night. He said he plans on filing a lawsuit on their behalf alleging that the staff “disregarded the severity of what was going on with her.”
“She had a difficult life. She had a seizure disorder,” Collins said. “She had gotten a medical assistant degree but I guess she had started doing drugs relatively recently – or where it became problematic and concerning for the family.”