Attorney’s investigation shows Hollie Grote sought medical attention daily
Hollie Grote died while in the custody of the Pike County Sheriff’s Department on Oct. 24, 2021. A news release then stated that the 41-year-old woman had died in her sleep while under observation.
An autopsy was done, and according to Mark Pedroli, the attorney who was hired by Grote’s family, the results showed that she died of a brain tumor. She had been in the Pike County Jail since June of 2021, under two warrants, the Sheriff’s Department noted in its news release about her death last year.
But according to documents uncovered by Pedroli in his investigation into Grote’s death, Grote had sought medical attention almost daily because of severe headaches. After getting clearance from the family over HIPAA restrictions and filing several FOI requests, Pedroli said he learned the depth of pain Grote had been in during her four months in custody.
Pedroli said he filed a Sunshine Litigation against the Pike County Sheriff’s Office shortly after Grote’s death on behalf of her family “for refusing to give us investigative material.”
After filing the lawsuit, Pedroli said they received “most” of the material they had asked for.
Pedroli has been working with Pike County Prosecutor Alex Ellis, who he said is attempting to get the rest of what they need before proceeding with any action against the Sheriff’s Department.
“The only thing left is getting the communications between upper government officials about what happened that night—whether they be text messages or emails,” he said. “That is the last remaining component of the Sunshine Litigation.
“Once this is resolved,” he added, “I’ll talk to the family about what our next moves are.”
After reviewing the material he has now, Pedroli said he believes Grote’s Constitutional 8th Amendment rights were violated.
“From what I’ve seen, it seems pretty clear that they violated her Constitutional rights,” he said.
“She was clearly in need of medical attention,” he added, saying, “even a layperson would have known. You didn’t need a doctor or nurse or a professional to know that she needed medical attention, that she should have received it—(and) she didn’t get it.”
He said the lack of treatment was a tragedy. Pedroli noted that he handles a lot of these types of cases, ones involving the death of an inmate in a city or county jail.
“This one—it was pretty brutal to review this evidence,” he said during a phone interview. “To see her (Hollie Grote) continuously begging—in writing—and other ways to get her to a doctor or a hospital; to get someone to believe her that she was in that kind of pain. Her symptoms were significant,” he added. Records show, he explained, that she had double vision and at one point could no longer talk.
Sheriff Stephen Korte said his office did an investigation into Grote’s death and turned over the report to the county prosecutor’s office. He said he could only disclose the information he released last year after Grote’s death.
Pedroli said he didn’t think the Sheriff’s Office should have done the investigation.
“I don’t know if they did that here. I’m trying to figure that out,” he said.
“I discussed this with Ellis (the county prosecutor) at the start of this,” he said. “A lot of times small counties will call in to the Missouri State Highway Patrol” to do these types of investigations.
“In my opinion, the sheriff can’t investigate the sheriff’s department,” he explained. “Someone else needs to do that investigation.”
Ellis could not be reached before deadline for a comment. Pedroli said he believes Ellis has referred the investigation to an outside prosecutor for review.