Petition seeks information about death of Cook County Jail inmate

By Bethany Krajelis | Jan 12, 2015

The mother of three children whose 27-year-old father died while an inmate in the Cook County Jail filed a petition last week to try to get more information about his death.

On behalf of her three minor kids, Claudia Vasquez is seeking the information --which includes a list ranging from video surveillance to the names of other inmates-- from the county and Sheriff Tom Dart.

Vasquez filed the petition for discovery Jan. 9 in the Cook County Circuit Court under Supreme Court Rule 224, which allows a person to seek discovery before a lawsuit is filed to determine who may be held liable if a lawsuit is eventually filed.

According to the petition, the father of Vasquez's three children, Aldo Martinez, died on Oct. 18 while an inmate in the Cook County Jail. Vasquez says the cause of Martinez's death was asphyxia and that he was receiving medical care and treatment in jail from Cermak Health Services, which provides care to inmates.

On Oct. 23, the petition states, an attorney for Vasquez and Martinez's children requested that the sheriff's office, Cook County Department of Corrections and any other agency investigating Martinez's death preserve evidence.

Four days later, the attorney sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the county's DOC seeking documents about who rendered Martinez's medical care, as well as any documents or investigative files about his death, the petition states. 

The FOIA request, according to the petition, was denied because the investigation into Martinez's death was ongoing and directed the attorney to seek information about his medical care to Cermak Health Services. 

The pre-suit discovery petition is asking for any and all video surveillance from the tier Martinez was being housed in on Oct. 18, including but not limited to his cell;  photographs and video used to document the scene of his death; investigative files, memos, emails and notes about his death; his medical records, reports and requests; and the name and address of each and every inmate with knowledge of Martinez's death.

The petition was submitted by attorney Kevin J. Golden of Dudley & Lake LLC in Chicago.

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