Cops Force Woman to Give Birth in Prison, Laugh as Her Infant Dies in the Cell: Lawsuit

Molly Willms | Courthouse News Service

MILWAUKEE (CN) – The family of a baby who spent all of her brief life in a maximum security cell at the Milwaukee County jail filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the county and conservative Sheriff David Clarke Jr.

“As a result of the defendants’ reckless disregard and deliberate indifference, baby Laliah is not spending her first Christmas, or any other thereafter, with her mother or family, nor will she ever grow to have a family of her own,” according to Friday’s complaint, filed in Milwaukee federal court.

Laliah Swayzer, born healthy on July 14 to her mother Shadé Swayzer, died just a few hours later, while correctional staff ignored or laughed off the small family’s cries and screams for help, the complaint states.

The baby’s death is just one of four preventable deaths in the “dangerously understaffed” facility this year, according to Swayzer and her family.

One inmate was allegedly dropped on his head while seizing, another received no treatment for extreme substance withdrawal, and a third died of dehydration, which has since been ruled a homicide.

Swayzer was placed in the Milwaukee County Justice Facility on July 6 after she refused to leave a motel room, the complaint states.

Hospital staff medically cleared her and confirmed that her 33-week pregnancy was healthy and progressing normally when she was placed in the special needs unit at the jail, Swayzer says.

Two correctional officers, named only as C.O. Love and C.O. Brooks, allegedly transferred Swayzer to the maximum security unit without medical clearance, and a jail doctor delayed a July 13 appointment because Swayzer was not a priority.

At midnight on July 14, Swayzer went into labor in her “cold, dark and unsanitary maximum security cell,” her lawsuit states.

Swayzer screamed for help, but a correctional officer laughed at her and ignored her request, she claims in the complaint.

After four hours of unassisted labor, Swayzer’s baby was born in the jail cell, where she cried profusely and tried to breastfeed, the mother says.

More than an hour after she was born, after several guards had allegedly sneaked through the unit to avoid inmate detection, one finally noticed Laliah in the cell with her mother.

This guard inexplicably waited nine minutes to call a medical emergency, and it was another nine minutes before the Milwaukee Fire Department was called, the lawsuit states.

Rather than transporting mother or child to the nearby hospital’s neonatal care unit, which was just a third of a mile from the jail, MFD and jail staff spent 47 minutes trying to resuscitate Laliah using CPR and a portable medical device on a metal table in a common area of the maximum security unit, according to the complaint.

Laliah was finally declared dead at 6:55 a.m. on July 14, and was later found to be a “well-developed, well-nourished female neonate” of 37 weeks gestation, Swayzer claims.

The baby’s mother was finally transported to the hospital 10 minutes later, according to the complaint.

Swayzer blames her baby’s death on the jail staff’s allegedly inadequate health care.

“The lack of staff at the Justice Facility creates severe problems for the county’s ability to respond timely and appropriately to medical emergencies and needs, which is exactly what contributed to Laliah’s untimely, horrific, and preventable death,” the complaint states.

Swayzer has already brought the sheriff’s department to court for refusing to provide her with records related to her jail time and Laliah’s death, in a lawsuit pending in Milwaukee County Circuit Court before Judge David Hansher. The county has moved to dismiss the lawsuit.

The mother’s lawsuits come at a particularly bad time for Sheriff Clarke, who was recently passed over for a top Department of Homeland Security position in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

Clarke, a frequent Fox News contributor, gun rights advocate and vocal critic of anti-police brutality movements, has claimed in the past through his office that Laliah was stillborn.

Swayzer asserts wrongful death, failure to train, civil rights and negligence claims against the county, the sheriff’s department, individual staff members and the private healthcare company that serves the jail, Armor Correctional Health Services. She seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages.

A voicemail left Wednesday morning with Milwaukee County corporation counsel, to which questions about the case have been referred, was not immediately returned.

Swayzer, her family and Laliah’s estate are represented by Judge Lang & Katers LLC. A voicemail left with Christopher Katers, the signatory on the complaint, was not immediately returned.

Published by Courthouse News Service.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 3670 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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  • Philip Tomlins

    America is slowly becoming a third world country.

    • Solonge

      I would suggest its already become a third world country.

      • Bob Papadazzio

        My advice: Go to an actual third world country to see why that is such an asinine statement.

        • jllutseck

          My advice: visit places you wouldn’t ordinarily go in your own country to see why it’s not.

      • linksonice

        This is one of the saddest things I’ve read in a while, but here’s the crazy, and very scary thing … that the term “3rd world country” has negative connotations which in this case do not confirm the implied comparative analysis. Basically, you’d expect much better overall service in most 3rd world countries. The only notable exceptions would be countries like North Korea. You’d definitely expect this kind of inhumanity to happen there. The US has joined that “axis of evil” now, in many ways.

    • Durham Olympics 2024

      keep voting Democrat.

  • Kim Bak

    “Swayzer was placed in the Milwaukee County Justice Facility on July 6
    after she refused to leave a motel room, the complaint states.” Social services is what this Mother-to-be needed NOT jail time, Disgrace.

  • David Kinlow

    Here’s what this dumb ass of a Sheriff Clarke doesn’t get when he asserts that the child was stillborn. How the hell was a child allowed to be stillborn in a prison cell? It takes time for birth to progress, there’s contractions, the water breaks, the mother is calling for help, she is ignored, she eventually has to push the child out with no assistance or medical care. HOW DID ALL THAT HAPPEN WITH NO RESPONSE? Why was she moved without medical clearance? Why was her and her child not immediately take to a hospital considering she gave birth hours earlier and the child is now unresponsive? Why weren’t resuscitative efforts taken ON THE WAY to the hospital? There’s so many things wrong with this incident that we’d need an algebraic function to evaluate it. A child doesn’t have a healthy check up at 33 weeks and then magically dies in the womb before delivery at 37 weeks, unless someone has abused the mother while she was pregnant, and the most contact she has was with law enforcement. I really hate that I share a name with this man. He is decreasing the value and pride of having the name David.

    • Arthur

      and the crazy shit is that I can push a button at my local diner for service yet this woman who was very late into her pregnancy has to yell from a cage. 🙁
      End the state

    • NeonDisease

      This must be the “freedom and rights” our soldiers are fighting to defend. /s

  • Durham Olympics 2024

    Well, the simple solution is to NOT GOT TO JAIL

    • Goku Kakarot Son

      Going to jail for a the “crime” of not leaving a motel room while pregnant cos you have no where go is acceptable to you? And end result causing the death of an infant as punishment for that crime is acceptable to you? Hang yourself you pathetic, inbred, waste of oxygen. People like you should not exist in my world.

      • Durham Olympics 2024

        WOW! Such love, tolerance, acceptance, coexistence and diversity!!!! You must be a Hillary supporting libnut with that level of hatred in your life. I feel so bad for you. I’m not particularly religious but I will certainly pray for your anger to subside. Yes, it is a crime not to leave a private establishment upon request or when the contractual agreement has been fulfilled. It’s simple business law 101. Perhaps drop the double major in basket weaving and gender fluid dance studies, and try getting into the real world for once. Study basic law, economics and maybe some form of business/technology.

        Besides, there’s these great innovations called Shelters, Women’s Shelters, Rescue Missions, Churches, and many other non-profits dedicated to the well-being of a pregnant woman. Are you going to tell me that the entire city of Milwaukee had NO public or private resources to get this woman a safe place to stay? Give me a break. You’re truly a cuck. Try taking a lesson in personal accountability while you venture out of your safe space, you precious little snowflake.

        But then again, great ideals like the ones above contradict your war on women, and how much your internally despise them, just like all liberals truly do.

        • Juperlative

          If you pan out, and sift for just the facts minus personal feelings, or whatever. A human was killed as a result of an action that amounted to a non capitol offense. Overstaying at a hotel, does not justify a death sentence, and this mother should not have even been jailed for such, most likely. Was she a danger to you, herself, or me? Was she proven guilty and confined? Thats what jails are for. When we socially take a person (or things) ability to care for itself away from it, we become responsible for that life. This baby was killed by neglect of a captor, and as a private institution, this should not be ignored.

        • snowdogrob2112
        • Trish Eeaa
        • Will

          Troll, troll go away. We know you talk like this to get a reaction. We know these are opinions you don’t present in your real life. We know your over reaction was full of contradiction and goes way over the top.

        • Anna_Trocity

          I like how you posted your first comment meant to garner attention, so you could post what you really wanted to; a rant about Liberals. You seriously used the death of an infant to make a political point? I see you spat out every programmed phrase from your ALT-RIGHT news sources. You’ve been figured out and you’re no different than the other miserable people just wanting to rant about something because you know you have a captive audience. People like you should be summarily shot between the eyes, just for shits and giggles. Clean this country up and NOTHING like this will happen again.

          • Anna_Trocity

            Posting hateful things, then turning the blame on the first rebuttal. You must really think everyone is as ignorant and heartless as you are.

        • Goku Kakarot Son

          Caring for the life of a infant somehow makes me a “Libtard”?? what ever the fuck that means. You are a mistake that should have been swallowed. That is all I will say on the subject.. Please do not breed

          • Jacques Strap

            no. you can care about infants all you want. Glad we can agree on caring about infants.

            It’s the rest of your insults, name calling, intolerance, and the remainder of your hateful commentary that I find completely distasteful and unnecessary. I mean, how can you have a discussion on anything when all you say is things like “die” and “don’t breed’?

            You’re a hateful little man. The remainder of civilized society will pray for you.

      • peoplearenodamngood

        really? you believe she was given prison time for simply not leaving a motel room? I’m with Clancy3009 – a lot is missing from this story and I can’t find a trace of it outside this post.

    • SELongB

      So your okay with the police abusing an inmate and possibly infanticide as long as someone broke the law.

      • Durham Olympics 2024

        * you’re.

        No. I’m not okay with any of it. Those involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    • Friesjones

      The cops had the discretion to not take her to jail. They were called to get her out of an hotel room, and they chose to arrest her. Locking up a pregnant woman about to give birth for seeking shelter seems more than inhumane, it seems anti-mammalian.

      • schrodie

        She wasn’t “about” to give birth when she was arrested. She was 33 weeks along, which is +/- 7 weeks away from the “typical” 40 weeks’ gestation. “Hospital staff medically cleared her and confirmed that her 33-week pregnancy was healthy and progressing normally when she was placed in the special needs unit at the jail, Swayzer says.” Certainly, if she had been in labor or “about to give birth”, as you claim, the hospital staff would have noticed that. She was arrested on July 6, but didn’t go into labor and give birth until about 8 days later. EIGHT DAYS! She thinks that because she was pregnant, she was ‘entitled’ to be in that hotel room. That’s why she was arrested. It’s called TRESPASSING.

        No, this gold-digger is nothing more than another member of the “entitlement and reparations” demographic. She’s suing for $8.5 million– “reparations, bitch!”

        Here’s another nugget, from Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel (jsonline), December 24, 2016: “In the lawsuit, Swayzer’s lawyers said an unnamed corrections officer ignored Swayzer’s plea for help at about 12:15 a.m. on July 14. Swayzer gave birth at about 4 a.m., and officers didn’t notice during rounds of the unit at about 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., her lawyers said. At 6 a.m., an officer spotted Swayzer concealing the child and intervened. The newborn was pronounced dead about an hour later.”

        From Copblock: “The notice of claim and subsequent lawsuit will be seeking $8.5 million in damages for Swayzer. (KA-CHING! Ghetto Lottery ticket) She claims that her baby was “born alive, cried profusely and was breastfed” before expiring because of lack of medical care.” Sadly, the baby was nothing more than a meal ticket for this sow. If the baby had lived, it would have meant more welfare for the sow. Now that the poor baby is dead, this sow will live it up for the rest of her life, if she doesn’t blow it all on dope and weaves.

        All that she had to do was comply with the order to leave, and go to a shelter or church and none of this would have ever happened. SHE chose to not comply and her baby died as a result. So sad, too bad, sucks to be her (the sow). She shouldn’t get one red penny. If I were the judge, I’d grant sovereign immunity per the Eleventh Amendment to the jail and the county and everyone involved.

  • Liz O’neill

    so American law enforcements war on civillians has now been enlarged to encompass the unborn as well, this poor little child should be alive and healthy today, no one will get punished, no one will be made to pay, the thugs on duty will probably get paid leave and then promotion, only blue lives matter, the rest of the population, born and unborn are just prey for the thugs with badges. I hope the death of this innocent gives them all nightmares for the rest of their lives, but it wont, you would have to be able to feel empathy for that, all cops feel is contempt. R.I P little one.

  • clancy3909

    If her family was so concerned about here why was she living in a motel when pregnant??Sorry there is way more to this then this shoddy article

    • SELongB

      Unfortunately, to some people in this country, a motel is a Shangri La compared to were they live.

  • david scott

    What is the entire story? Just asking.WHAT is not being reported. Why should Sheriff Clarke be sued, could it be that because he did not kowtow to the impotent that he is being singled out?

    • SELongB

      The entire story? Let’s look at the objective facts of the matter. A woman in her third trimester was put into a maximum security cell, went into labor, and delivered a baby, who may have been stillborn. Even if you assume Sheriff Clarke’s stillborn statement is correct, that still means the Milwaukee county jail, and by extension Sheriff Clarke, has to answer for the abuse of an inmate, via refusing medical care.

      • david scott

        Following your line of thought the, Obama is responsible for the four men in Benghazi, Henry Ford is responsible for auto accidents, Jack Daniels Black label?

  • baruchzed

    All those involved should be charged with 1st degree murder, arrested and held without bail, including the uncle tom nazi Clarke. This is a disgrace.

  • Beck

    Don’t get your ass arrested when 9 months pregnant.

    • schrodie


  • NeonDisease

    Nobody will go to jail or get fired for this.

    The only people who will get punished are the taxpayers who will be stuck footing the bill for the lawsuit.