A South Florida family wants answers after they were told their loved one died while being held in jail, but he was alive and well.
Vladimir Zamor, 32, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a weapon — a charge he has entered a not guilty plea to. His family said he was being held at the Miami-Dade Metro West Detention Center.
Zamor’s mother spoke exclusively with NBC 6 on Friday, laying out her heartbreak over what she said transpired in June.
“It’s very terrible,” Marie Zamor said.
Her cellphone records show she answered a call from the jail at 9:47 a.m., which lasted nine minutes.
“I’m sorry but your son was complaining of chest pain at 5 o’clock in the morning and they took him to Kendall Regional, and at 6 o’clock he passed away," Marie said the jail’s chaplain told her.
“And I started screaming, 'Y’all killed my son. Y’all killed my son. Tell me what happened.' My granddaughter was sleeping next to me. She was behind me and then she woke up and I looked at her and I hugged her," Marie said. "And I hold her up and I say, 'I’m sorry. I’m sorry.'"
Marie said her son sounded just fine when she spoke to him two days earlier and had a missed call from him the day before she received the call from the chaplain.
As the minutes passed, she said the family gathered to head to the hospital where Marie planned to identify her son’s body. But before leaving her home, Marie said another call came from the same number at the jail.
“It’s the same person," she said. "The same chaplain called and he said, ‘Ms. Marie, I am sorry, we had made a mistake. Your son (is) not dead. We give you the wrong information. Your son is in his cell sleeping.’”
The Miami-Dade Corrections Department told NBC 6 they realized they reached out to the wrong family within minutes and notified them of the error. Marie’s phone records show the second call came two hours and 23 minutes after the first one.
“I am happy my son is not dead, but at the same time, I say, ‘why you do that to me?’" she said.
The family then rushed to the Metro West jail to see if Vladimir was in fact alright.
“I say, you cannot tell me I cannot see my son because you told me my son is dead,” Zamor said, describing a conversation with the correctional officers.
Within an hour, corrections officers brought her son to the family, which Marie said she appreciated.
“This is unfathomable how something like this could have happened,” said David Kubiliun, who is the attorney Marie hired to investigate. “What we are looking into is there’s got to be a protocol in place on notifying the next of kin and verifying before making that phone call that the person who is deceased is actually that person. How that protocol was not followed is beyond anyone’s imagination.”
Marie said she is now doing her best to explain to her grandkids what happened.
The Miami-Dade Corrections Department said it apologized to the family for the “hardship caused,” saying in a statement, in part, “MDCR deeply regrets this mistake.”
The statement went on to say, “The Miami-Dade Police Department will conduct a full third-party review of departmental policies, and procedures and make recommendations about necessary guardrails and protocols to prevent a future error of this kind from happening again.”
The department told us another inmate did die from medical issues, which they said led to the confusion.
In two weeks, Vladimir Zamor is scheduled to go to trial on the battery charge.