Texas Jail Nurse Allows Woman to Die in Diabetic Coma; Refuses Blood Sugar Test
The parents of an insulin-dependent 20-year-old diabetic woman who died in an Texas jail cell after a licensed nurse ignored her pleas and refused to help released a surveillance video of her death Thursday in hopes it will bring about changes in the “prison for profit” industry.
“We want to see things change in jails everywhere. Morgan had a family that loved her,” Jennifer Houser, the mother of Morgan Angerbaur said.
“This has to change. Nobody deserves to die like that.”
Morgan Angerbauer, 20, was booked into Bi-State Justice Building in Texarkana in the afternoon of June 28 for violation of her probation for possession of drugs – the same jail we reported on last month where guards killed a man on camera who told them multiple times, “I can’t breathe.”
She was found dead in her cell three days later on July 1 after a jailhouse nurse refused to administer a blood sugar test – despite the fact Angerbauer banged on her cell door over several hours asking to get her blood tested.
Brittany Johnson, the licensed vocational nurse who refused her requests for blood tests, has since been charged with negligent homicide, a misdemeanor.
In the days leading to her death when they did test her blood, Angerbauer’s glucose readings were so high they exceeded the jail’s equipment’s testing range.
But she was never taken to the hospital.
The video shows Johnson, who admitted she refused to check on Angerbauer’s blood sugar, finally entering the cell at 4:12 a.m. after previously ignoring several of her cries for help.
Angerbauer’s last dose of insulin was administered at 5:30 a.m. on June 30.
At 10:30 a.m., nurse Tiffany Venable, documented Angerbauer’s blood sugar at 74, which is within the normal range of 70-110.
At 4:30 p.m. Venable noted that Angerbauer refused a blood sugar test.
According to jail policy, refusals are documented when an inmate doesn’t show up for a pill call even if the inmate is asleep or incapacitated.
At around 5 p.m., Angerbauer tells nurse Brittany Johnson she wanted her blood sugar checked.
“Johnson also admitted that she was fully aware of the severity of Angerbauer’s medical diabetic situation, but rather than treat her, she told her that things don’t work that way, if you miss your medical call you have to wait until it’s time for your next medical call,” the affidavit for Johnson’s arrest states.
“Johnson told investigators that if she allowed all offenders to do that, she’d never get anything done.”
Angerbauer had been pleading for help throughout the night.
At around 4:00 a.m., trustees at the jail observed Angerbauer laying unconscious in her jail cell and informed medical staff.
At 4:12 a.m., video shows Angerbauer unconscious next to what appears to be vomit when Johnson looks through the glass panel in her cell. At this point, Angerbauer has received no insulin in almost 23 hours.
Johnson appears to yell at Angerbauer, flips the lights off and on, and knocks on the glass window of her jail cell.
About a minute later, a correctional officer opens the door to Angerbauer’s cell for Johnson. She walks in carrying a folder and shakes Angerbauer.
Angerbauer is motionless and doesn’t move or respond.
Nurse Johnson leaves then returns with a tube of glucose used for diabetics and squirts it into Angerbauer’s mouth at around 4:15 a.m.
A correctional officer stands by Angerbauer, attempting to provide support, as she remains motionless and by this time appears completely unconscious.
At 4:37 a.m., Angerbauer’s body appears lifeless, her legs are lopsided, her mouth is open and her head is tilted back.
At this point, nobody on the medical or jail staff bothered to call 911 for medical attention, although one correctional officer appears to be texting as he stands in the doorway.
Nurse Johnson continues to test Angerbauer’s blood sugar levels while Angerbauer remains limp and unresponsive.
At 4:57 a.m., a female correctional officer enters the cell with a video camera.
A male correctional officer standing in the cell begins talking on a cordless phone, presumably calling 911 attempting to summon paramedics for medical help.
Paramedics arrive and enter Angerbauer’s cell at 5:06 a.m. just shortly after Johnson decided to administer CPR, using a portable defibrillator.
Emergency personnel is unable to revive Angerbauer. Paramedics leave at 5:10 a.m. just minutes after they arrive.
About a minute later, Johnson closes Angerbauer’s eyes, places an orange sheet over her deceased body and exits the jail cell.
Johnson has pleaded not guilty to charges negligent homicide. Her next court date, which is set on a trial docket, is in February.
Andy and Jennifer Hauser, the parents of Angerbauer, filed a lawsuit for civil rights violations and wrongful death, which can be seen below or read here.
“It was the most excruciating thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Jennifer Houser said after viewing the video of her daughter’s death. “All of those people, all had cell phones, not one of them thought to call 911.”
“Her civil rights were stripped away the moment she entered that cell,” Jennifer Houser said.
“Had they just taken her to the ER in the first 30 minutes, there is a good chance she would’ve lived,” Matthew Campbell, the attorney representing the Houser’s said. “They didn’t follow their own procedures ”
Campbell says Angerbauer should have been taken to the hospital by at least June 29 when several of her blood sugar readings were over 400 and 500 to be treated for ketoacidosis and high blood sugar levels.
The lawsuit Campbell filed on the Houser’s behalf names nurse Brittany Johnson; LaSalle Corrections, the company responsible for managing the Bi-State Jail; LaSalle owners and administrators as well as Johnson’s supervisor, along with 20 John Doe and Jane Doe defendants who failed to call for emergency help, but have yet to be identified.
The Houser’s say they hope the aftermath daughter’s death and their pending lawsuits will prompt the “prison for profit” system to re-evaluate and spark changes in jails across the country.
Angerbauer’s death at the Bi-State jail in Texarkana comes less than a year after inmate Michael Sabbie’s death at the same jail after he was pepper sprayed.
Sabbie complained to correctional officers he could not breathe. But like Angerbauer’s, Sabbie’s pleas for help were ignored by staff at Bi-State jail.