Jonathan Mason-June 5th, 2023.
On the day he was arrested for a misdemeanor, Dexter Barry warned Florida police that if he did not take his anti-rejection medication, his heart would fail.
“I take rejection medicine for my heart transplant. I can’t miss those doses,” he said, according to body camera footage obtained by National Public Radio News.
Barry, 54, pleaded with the arresting officer seven times back in November. He alerted the jail nurse and a court judge about his condition too. But in the two days that Barry was held at Duval County Jail in Jacksonville, Fla., no one allowed him access to the medication he desperately asked for.
Three days after he was released from jail, Barry died from cardiac arrest that was caused by an acute rejection of the heart, Dr. Jose Suarez Hoyos, a Florida pathologist who conducted a private autopsy of Barry on behalf of Barry’s family, told NPR.
Barry’s family insists that their loved one’s death was entirely preventable had the jail staff taken Barry’s pleas for his medication more seriously. His death, which was first reported by The Tributary, has sparked major questions about the quality of health care overseen by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
During a health intake, a jail nurse noted that Barry had a heart transplant and needed medication for it. “Urgent Referral,” the nurse wrote down, as well as the location of Barry’s pharmacy, according to medical documents.
The next day, at a bond hearing, Barry sounded the alarm again.
“I just had a heart transplant and I haven’t took my medicine all day since I have been locked up, and I take rejection medicines for my heart so my heart won’t reject it,” Barry said, according to court transcripts.
Judge Gilbert Feltel responded “OK,” adding that Barry could be released if he paid a bond of $503.
“Hopefully you are able to make bond here and get your medication,” the judge said.
Barry, a car salesman whose family came from the West Indies, loved traveling to the Caribbean, talking about cars and making his children laugh.
After experiencing a near-stroke in 2008, Barry waited for a new heart for 12 years, and even moved to Florida to increase his chances of getting the procedure, King said. Barry was determined to receive the treatment because he wanted to watch his son’s children grow up, as well as see King have a child of her own. In 2020, the opportunity to possibly live a longer, healthier life came true.