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Woman dies while in custody of Davis County Jail; family protests

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Posted at 9:50 PM, Jun 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-28 23:50:14-04

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah -- A family is preparing to sue the Davis County Jail after their mother died while in custody.

Family and friends of Kara Noakes believe her death could have been prevented if only the jail would have allowed her to take her blood pressure medicine.

On Tuesday, friends and family of Noakes, 46, protested against the jail. They want to see better standards when it comes to caring for inmates with medical conditions.

"If we don't stand up and do something about this, the message we're sending to the jails, sending to the police, is that they're above the law and they can do whatever they want without consequence," said Noakes’ son William Nelson.

According to the family, Noakes brought the medication with her during booking and told the staff she would die without it.

"Kara was calling five times a day and talking to us and telling us 'no I haven't had my medication.' She was stressed out, she was scared, she was by herself, she spent her last days on earth in jail, and there was no reason for it, there was no need for her to die,” said friend Amanda Cromwell.

Noakes had a warrant out her for arrest for not paying traffic tickets. She was booked on June 21 for driving without a license and not having insurance. She was found dead in her jail cell two days later.

"She was only in there for traffic violations, she wasn't a criminal, she wasn't violent, she was a kind, caring, loving mother who would do anything for anyone," Nelson said.

Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson said the jail has a thorough policy when it comes to inmates’ health care needs. During booking they are asked a number of important questions.

"They want to know if they have any type of medical problems, if so what type of medications they take,” Richardson said. "We have a pharmacy that deals with that, dispenses medication to all the inmates that have needs.”

What the jail does not do is allow inmates to bring in their own medication.

“There is no way that we can have of guaranteeing what type of medication it was, was it tainted medication, if they are bringing in illicit drugs from the outside," Richardson said.

Davis County said this type of death is extremely rare and they don’t want to speculate until the investigation is complete.

Weber County is conducting the investigation, regarding cause of death and whether or not Davis County may have done anything wrong.