The FBI said Wednesday that an open investigation into alleged civil rights violations at the San Luis Obispo County Jail was officially opened in May, though agents had been assessing information about the matter earlier.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the agency received at least one allegation of abuse at the jail before the death of jail inmate Kevin McLaughlin on April 13. That’s when Sheriff Ian Parkinson publicly announced that he asked the FBI and County District Attorney’s Office to conduct their own investigations into McLaughlin’s death, as well as “any jail death that’s occurred that they felt was worthy of their own investigation.”
Eimiller said the matter was brought to the FBI’s attention because of the Jan. 22 death of inmate Andrew Holland. Holland, 36, died of an embolism caused by a blood clot after spending about 46 hours strapped to a restraint chair.
Tavener Holland, a cousin of Andrew Holland, said Wednesday that he was interviewed by FBI agents via phone March 23 and again in person April 5, when they discussed his cousin’s death, the Sheriff and other matters related to the jail.
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Eimiller said that the FBI regularly investigates complaints it receives to assess whether to launch a formal investigation. She said the agency is acting independently and is not investigating the jail in response to Parkinson’s request.
As of last week, the District Attorney’s Office was in the final stages of its investigation into McLaughlin’s death. It has not investigated any of the other 10 deaths to have occurred at the jail since 2012. The DA’s Office said it has not investigated Holland’s death because the FBI was doing so.