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SLO County jail inmate dies after complaining of shoulder pain, sheriff says

San Luis Obispo County Jail is the subject of an investigation by the FBI, which has been investigating alleged civil rights abuses since at least March 2017 in the wake of a high-profile series of inmate deaths.
San Luis Obispo County Jail is the subject of an investigation by the FBI, which has been investigating alleged civil rights abuses since at least March 2017 in the wake of a high-profile series of inmate deaths. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Update, 2 p.m.

The San Luis Obispo County Jail inmate who died in custody Thursday complained of shoulder pain early in the morning and was later found unresponsive and breathing irregularly, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.

The 60-year-old inmate — whose mother requested his name not be released until the rest of his family has been notified — was seen by a nurse about 2:03 a.m., who checked his vital signs and sent him back to bed in a lower-level security dormitory with 65 other men.

A correctional deputy checked on the inmate about 3:15 a.m. after noticing his breathing pattern and unresponsiveness. Deputies began life-saving measures, which included performing CPR and using a defibrillator.

Once an ambulance arrived, paramedics took over administering aid, but were unable to revive him. No foul play is suspected.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office is performing an autopsy on the inmate today, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said at a news conference.

Parkinson has requested the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office conduct independent investigations into the matter and into “any jail death that’s occurred that they felt was worthy of their own investigation.”

He said the jail has become a “de facto” health facility for those who are taken into custody with mental or physical ailments.

“I need to assure the public that our goal is to look into this matter — and any other matter, for that sake — to determine if there was anything that could have or should have been done differently.”

Original story

Less than three months after a mentally ill inmate died while in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail, another inmate died in custody Thursday, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Ian Parkinson said Thursday morning that the latest death was medical and unrelated to mental health. The Sheriff’s Office will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. and will release more information at that time.

The inmate who died Thursday is the 11th person to die in San Luis Obispo County Jail custody since Parkinson took office in January 2011. The coroner ruled out homicide in each of those cases, ruling the causes of death in some of those cases as suicide, influenza, acute methamphetamine toxicity, or heroin overdose.

The death Thursday comes three days after county officials released the final coroner’s report for Andrew Chaylon Holland, of Atascadero, who died Jan. 22 of an intrapulmonary embolism after being held in a plastic harnessed restraint chair for nearly two days. According to the report, Holland was restrained in the chair for more than 46 hours and collapsed roughly 20 minutes after being released from his restraints.

The coroner, in his report, noted that Holland had a 5-centimeter-long blood clot found in an artery in his lung. An intrapulmonary embolism usually begins as a blood clot in a leg vein, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The coroner’s report ruled the manner of death as “natural.” Holland’s family attorney claims that Holland was tortured and murdered, and that those responsible for supervising Holland violated state law that says restrained inmates should be moved to a medical facility after eight hours.

The family plans to file an administrative claim against the county, demanding officials change how mentally ill inmates are treated at the jail. Should that fail, a wrongful death lawsuit will likely result, said attorney Paula Canny.

Parkinson on Tuesday said that all custody protocols were followed and noted that the Sheriff’s Office had concluded its investigation.

Staff writer Lindsey Holden contributed to this story.

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