WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) – The family of a Luzerne County man who died two days after being restrained while in custody, is speaking out after posting video of a portion of the incident on social media.
41-year-old Shaheen Mackey was brought to the Luzerne County prison on the afternoon of June 6th of 2018. Later that day he was rushed to the hospital, where he died two days later. His family tells Eyewitness News they are seeking justice and insist he did not have to die.
Tatiyanee Mackey, Shaheen’s daughter, says, “You see the video but you don’t see the crime that’s being committed. How? I don’t know how, because it’s right there, it’s clear. It’s clear.””
Mackey’s family says a relative posted video of a portion of the incident involving Mackey and corrections officers on Facebook. They say they want the public to see what they are calling a crime behind prison walls.
Mackey’s daughter exclaims, “It shouldn’t have to come to us putting out a video for people to see the truth. This is real pain. This is not a joke. This is real life.”
Eyewitness News is not airing the social media post which runs about 23 minutes, until we obtain a copy of the full video clip of the incident and can verify its authenticity. The family and county officials all tell us the full video runs more than an hour.
The family says they will provide the full video to Eyewitness News, but we have not yet received it. Eyewitness News also filed right to know requests with county officials for the video.
The family says Mackey suffered from a seizure disorder and that prison officials did not properly document his medical condition and instead used physical force to restrain him. Corrections officers performed C.P.R. And called 911. Mackey died two days later at a hospital.
The Luzerne County district attorney cleared the officers of any criminal wrong doing, and a forensic pathologist determined that Mackey died from natural causes, but the Mackey’s have a lot of questions.
Tatiyanee says, “A accident/natural causes- natural causes? Really come on. That’s no natural causes. They let him sit in that chair and take his last breath. They didn’t care that’s sick.”
Mackey was, in fact, pronounced dead two days later at a hospital. Luzerne County officials reached a $3 million dollar settlement with the family to resolve a federal lawsuit.
Today county manager Dave Pedri released a statement that reads in part:
“LCCF and the county have taken a number of steps since June 2018, including the implementation of a more thorough medical screening upon intake, increased training for corrections officers around detecting and responding to inmate medical episodes and enhanced reporting protocols.”
The family says they hope to prevent future incidents like this from happening.
“Accountability that’s what we want… Justice… Justice,” says Tatiyanee.
The family also questions the criminal investigation. Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying, “Neither the county’s decision to settle the civil action, nor the video’s release affect the investigation or decision with respect to criminal charges against the corrections officers in this case.”
Salavantis goes on to say the investigation was reviewed by federal authorities. “Whether the episode was caused by the effects of a controlled substance – as initially, but incorrectly, believed by the officers, or by seizure as was later believed, the officers had a responsibility to attempt to restrain Mr. Mackey before he hurt himself or anyone else or before he could be given medical attention in his agitated state. As a result, we stand by our investigation which revealed no evidence of criminal intent to harm Mr. Mackey or commit any other crime during this episode,” said Salavantis.
You can read the full statement from District Attorney Salavantis here.