Federal authorities investigating allegations of abuse at Ramsey County Jail

FOX 9 has learned federal authorities have reached out to at least one former Ramsey County Jail inmate about her allegations of abuse and medical neglect while in custody at the Adult Detention Center in Saint Paul.

It is not clear the scope of any FBI or Department of Justice probe, but in a letter to the woman’s attorneys, the feds wrote she may be a victim of a crime. Neither federal agency comments to either confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

The news of federal law enforcement potentially investigating any prior incidents inside the jail compounds the trouble for the facility that is already under the microscope for issues of overcrowding, understaffing and medical neglect.

"It really doesn't matter why they are there. If you are going to keep them in jail or a prison, they are entitled to care under the 14th amendment," attorney Richard Student told FOX 9’s Paul Blume about the obligations correctional staff has to care for those in their custody.

Student and law partner Steve Meshbesher confirmed on Wednesday that federal authorities recently reached out to investigate the civil rights and medical negligence claims their client Miri Mozuch-Stafford has made against the Ramsey County Jail and its staff. 

In a federal lawsuit currently working its way through the courts, Mozuch-Stafford claimed several sheriff’s deputies and a doctor violated her constitutional rights.

Her attorneys contend jailhouse surveillance images from February 2021 tell the story. An apparent verbal exchange escalated, with the inmate then tackled to the ground where she allegedly suffered a fractured leg and severed artery. Meshbesher and Student allege she did not get the emergency medical care she needed for 17 hours, leaving her with permanent deformities.

"Now we're here," said Student. "And now the federal government is looking at them. And the state DOC Commissioner is looking at them, and they need to make changes yesterday."

The Ramsey County Jail has been under fire recently for overcrowding, understaffing, and medical neglect issues with the Department of Corrections ordering the sheriff’s office to take immediate corrective action.

Adding to the recent issues, Student and Meshbesher are now readying a second federal civil rights lawsuit - this one involving the death of an inmate from last summer.

They allege Dillon Bakke had a known health condition requiring medical care that he did not receive after arriving at the Adult Correction Center with a head injury. He died several days later. The lawyers insist the jail is to blame. "When an ambulance is a 30-second phone call away and Regions Hospital is geographically four blocks away from the jail. It is inexcusable." 

Communications officials at the Department of Corrections and Ramsey County told FOX 9, they are not aware of any federal investigations into recently documented jailhouse issues.