A Disabled Alaskan Woman Was Arrested for Hitting a Nurse. Four Days Later, She Died in Jail.
The Alaska Department of Corrections is investigating how a disabled woman died on its watch, only four days after being booked for a misdemeanor assault charge.
Nancy Grace Analoak, a 47-year-old patient at the Alaska Native Medical Center, was arrested last Wednesday for hitting her nurse. That night, she was sent to jail for the first time.
Four days later, she was found dead in her jail cell.
“I am just shocked that no one knows what happened to my sister. This isn’t right,” Walter Analoak, the disabled woman’s brother, told The Daily Beast Thursday. “My family just wants answers.”
The mysterious case, which was first reported by the Anchorage Daily News, is now the subject of an investigation by the Alaska Department of Corrections, which has yet to confirm Analoak’s cause of death.
According to authorities, Analoak was a patient at the Alaska Native Medical Center on the evening of October 24, when she “became enraged” by a nurse who was trying to help her use the bathroom. She hit her nurse in the head and face, causing the nurse to suffer a swollen lip and bloody nose, police said.
It remains unclear why Analoak was at the hospital, but according to her brother, she had been previously diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome and had never lived independently due to a mental illness that required medication.
“Without medications she would sometimes get violent,” he said, admitting that he didn’t know her exact diagnosis because she previously lived with their parents and had been put under state guardianship after their death.
“She would lose her temper easily,” the brother added.
The Alaska Native Medical Center declined to answer questions about Analoak or the nurse she assaulted, citing patient privacy.
“We worked with law enforcement to ensure that any arrest that must be made in the facility occured in a manner that was as safe as possible for both the patient and other individuals in the facility,” Shirley Young, a hospital spokeswoman, told The Daily Beast Thursday. “In situations where a patient is not medically stable for discharge, they may be arrested and remain in the facility.”
Analoak was arrested and immediately taken to the Anchorage jail the night of the punch, where she was booked for a single misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault, records show.
The next day, she was transferred to Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, where she was placed in a segregation unit designated for patients with medical problems, the Department of Corrections confirmed to The Daily Beast.
Around 11:45 a.m Sunday, Analoak was found unresponsive in her cell by a nurse, authorities said. She was declared dead at the scene a short time later.
Little is known about what transpired during the three other days she spent at the correctional center, but Analoak missed several initial court appearances, court records show.
Each day, Analoak was placed on the “medical hold” list, Seneca Theno, a prosecutor for the Anchorage Municipal Prosecutor’s Office, confirmed to The Daily Beast.
“Inmates are usually put on the medical hold list when they aren’t well enough to be transported to court from jail,” Theno said.
According to Alaska state law, a fourth-degree assault charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
While it is uncommon for someone like Analock, who the corrections department confirmed had never been previously incarcerated, to be placed in jail for this charge, a lawyer explained to The Daily Beast that she may have been booked to ensure she made her initial court appearances, given her mental-health condition.
On the day of her death, Analoak had a scheduled court appearance. According to her court records, a plan was also in place to transfer her case to a specialized court for individuals with serious mental-health issues. That transfer was to occur on Monday.
Walter Analoak, a former correctional officer at Hiland, said Nancy Grace was the youngest in their large family, but he admitted that he hasn’t seen his sister in years, though she remained close to some of their other siblings.
Now, he says, he will never get the chance to rekindle their relationship.
“I know the unit where she was placed and I have so many questions about what happened,” he said. “Why was she taken to jail from the hospital at all? She was upset at her nurse but she didn’t deserve to go to jail. She was just sick.”