News 4 Exclusive: She died in a jail cell. Did corrections staff ignore advice of EMS to treat her?

A family wants accountability and action after a woman died inside a local jail.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:14 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2023 at 9:04 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A family wants accountability and action after a woman died inside a local jail. They told News 4 she begged for help, but corrections officials ignored the advice of paramedics who said she needed to be in a hospital, not a cell.

Forty-five-year-old Kate Pinson was a daughter and a mother.

“She was there for every big event she had. Did these awesome costumes for us every Halloween, handmade costumes,” said her daughter Kayla Hoeer. “A really good. Mom.”

But Kate was also bipolar and struggled with substance abuse.

“She had her first surgery about 23 years of age, and she was put on opiates for the pain,” said her mother Sally Becker.

Later, her family said, she turned to fentanyl. In August last year, she was arrested for warrants on outstanding traffic tickets. She was taken to St. Louis County first, then the St. Ann jail.

“She was saying, ‘Mom, I got to get out of here. I’m really sick,’” she said.

“She said what I need to do is go to a hospital. It was the last time I heard her,” Sally said.

Sally said she thought her daughter had bonded out. It was four days later that St. Ann officials told her Kate had died, she told News 4 Investigates.

“She had already had an autopsy. We didn’t get to say goodbye to her. We’re Catholic. She didn’t get her last rites. It was a shock,” Sally said.

But what was worse, she said, is what she learned in the weeks after. The medical report states Kate’s death was accidental from the use of drugs. But that same report also says “nothing was found” in her cell.

Kate’s family obtained a video of Kate in the hours leading up to her death. A corrections officer, wearing a body camera, attempted to take her blood pressure. She had chest pain and was vomiting.

“I mean, it was, obviously she was in medical distress, and they totally ignored it.”

August 21st at 4:40 p.m., an EMS report provided by the family says paramedics on scene advised corrections staff Kate needed transport to a hospital. But police said she’d stay in their custody. Around 10:30 p.m. that same night, EMS responded again. Her blood pressure was a very elevated 164 over 122. But again, EMS was told by Corrections officers that Kate was not being released from their custody and was staying at St. Ann jail.

“The paramedics said she needs to go. Both times,” said Sally.

Documents indicate she had been found to be fit for confinement, days prior.

But Sally said Kate wasn’t given any of her medications.

“She was going into heart failure and they just allowed it,” said Sally.

In the report, EMS officials said they were aware it was the second time they’d been called in 24 hours.

They asked for an on-duty sergeant, but in their report: “C.O officer made no mention of contacting sergeant after being requested to do so.”

“They made the decision to go against the directives of the professionals, the medical professionals. And they knew what they were witnessing. You did not have to be a medical person to see someone dying,” said Sally.

“They treated her subhuman,” said Kayla.

Kate’s daughter Kayla says so much was taken from them.

“She only got to hold her grandson three times. She’ll never see my kids. My little sister will never have the sweet 16. She won’t have any more Halloweens. She missed it all. My mom is gone for all of it,” said Kayla.

The procedures inside this or any jail, for getting medical treatment, they say, should be crystal clear.

“I want to see changes. I don’t want another family to have a loved member, have to be literally tortured in a cell and die alone when there’s so many people that loved them and wanted to be with them.”

News 4 Investigates wanted to talk with St. Ann for this story, but we were told they could not comment due to pending litigation.

Kate’s family has filed a lawsuit.

We’ll continue to track it.