A 64-year-old man who died while in ICE custody under the care of a private Aurora detention facility in 2017 did not receive proper medical care in compliance with ICE and federal standards, according to an investigative report obtained by Rocky Mountain PBS.

Kamyar Samimi, who immigrated from Iran to the United States, died on Dec. 2, 2017, after being taken into custody by ICE on Nov. 17, 2017. He was held in a medical unit for his 16 days in detention at the Denver Contract Detention Facility (DCDF) in Aurora.

Samimi, who was in jeopardy of being deported based on a June 9, 2005, cocaine possession conviction in Arapahoe County, was taking methadone when he was taken into custody. The Adams County coroner determined his cause of death as “undetermined,” but chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema) and gastrointestinal bleeding were contributing factors, the report said.

The Office of Professional Responsibility, External Reviews and Analysis Unit (ERAU) found that the DCDF “did not full comply” with multiple standards, including:

  • The medical team was short-staffed and several key positions had been vacant for months.
  • Nurses administered fewer than half the withdrawal medications ordered by a doctor for Samimi.
  • The facility’s medical staff failed to seek emergency care for Samimi’s life-threatening symptoms.
  • The facility failed to complete a comprehensive health assessment during Samimi’s first two weeks in detention as required by policy.
  • ICE requires an on-call physician to be available 24 hours per day, but nurses could not reach the physician the day Samimi died and nurses reported difficulty reaching the doctor outside his work hours.

“This was wild medical negligence for a longtime Colorado resident who had no real reason to be there,” Liz Jordan, director of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) Immigration Detention Accountability Project, told RMPBS. CREEC is suing ICE for records related to Samimi’s death.

The lack of care for Samimi before his death is part of a pattern, some security staff at the facility told investigators, RMPBS reported. Facility officers told investigators medical staff was unresponsive at times to their concerns about the health of detainees and a staff doctor told investigators that nurses were overworked and unable to respond to every complaint from officers.

Inmate population has grown from around 800 at the time of the Samimi’s death to about 1,365 currently, RMPBS said.

While in custody, Samimi attempted suicide on Nov. 28, 2017, according to the report. There were also times when he refused to eat and drink. There were also reports that the detainee “purposefully” fell to inflict self injuries. The day he died, Samimi was taken by ambulance to the University of Colorado Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about 17 minutes after arriving, according to the report.

Samimi on April 19, 1976, entered the United States as a student in New York City. A green card holder, Samimi was a permanent resident of the U.S. He had a pending court date to appear before a federal immigration judge when he died in custody.

Last month, Colorado immigration advocates filed a federal lawsuit demanding that ICE release more information about his death. ICE released the review to RMPBS in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted last summer. A summary letter attached to the report indicates the investigative report has been complete for nearly a year.