Crime

Son of man who died in jail custody also died at jail in 2001

The son of a Morro Bay man who died while in custody over the weekend at the San Luis Obispo County Jail also died while in custody in 2001, records show.

David Osborn Sr., 63, was pronounced dead at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center on Sunday morning after twice being arrested the day prior on suspicion of being drunk in public and requiring two evaluations by officers and jail medical staff.

Officials have yet to determine the cause of death, and an investigation by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office remained ongoing Monday. Toxicology results will not be available for up to six weeks.

On Jan. 21, 2001, Obsorn’s son, David Thomas Osborn Jr., hanged himself while being housed in a regular cell, not a safety cell where inmates known to be suicidal are placed, according to Tribune archives.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla confirmed the relationship between the two Monday.

“It’s unfortunate any time there’s a tragedy, but this is an extremely unfortunate incident for the family,” Cipolla said, adding that sheriff’s deputies, jail medical staff and Morro Bay police had cleared Osborn Sr. “I can assure you the Sheriff’s Office does everything it can to prevent deaths like this.”

Osborn Jr., 30, of Atascadero, was discovered by jail staff hanging from a noose fashioned from jail-issued clothes and wrapped around the cell’s steel bars, according to archives.

His death resulted in a $30,000 settlement between Osborn’s family and the county after the family claimed to have warned officials that Osborn Jr. was suicidal.

The younger Osborn was in custody for a parole violation, having been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving the day before, according to archives.

Though officials denied any wrongdoing in the case, county attorneys concluded in April 2004 that it would cost more to fight the case than reach a $30,000 settlement.

The civil suit was one of a string of high-profile cases brought against the county between 2001 and 2007 alleging excessive force, misconduct or negligence by sheriff’s deputies and jail staff. They were settled for a total of more than $3.1 million.

On Saturday, the elder Osborn was booked into County Jail on suspicion of public intoxication. Osborn was released that day, but he was arrested again several hours later for allegedly being drunk in public and violating his probation, Cipolla said.

Osborn was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo for medical clearance before he was again booked into County Jail shortly after midnight Sunday.

While still in the Intake Release Center, Osborn was seen twice by medical staff for complaints of a blood sugar imbalance — once at 2:30 a.m. and again at 7:15 a.m., according to a news release. He was escorted to the medical office at the jail, where he collapsed, according to the police.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 9:57 a.m.

Court records also show that Osborn Sr. recently lost a $110,000 personal injury civil case filed against him by cousin James Osborn, who alleged that Osborn Sr. violently struck him with a golf club while under the influence of alcohol, causing “severe personal injuries.”

On Jan. 5, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera awarded James Osborn $110,538 in damages and other costs.

Tara Osborn-Byrd of Bakersfield, Osborn Sr.’s daughter, said Monday that her father had been going through a difficult time over the last year dealing with alcohol and health issues. He was legally blind following an infection, she said, and suffered from diabetes, requiring insulin injections.

Osborn-Byrd said her father was a longtime Morro Bay resident and former baker and gas station attendant who spent much of the last 10 years working as a caretaker for his mother in Morro Bay. She passed away a year ago, Osborn-Byrd said.

She said her father enjoyed cooking, classic rock and taking care of his former pet parrots. He would regularly spend mornings “people-watching” with his mother at the beach or near Morro Rock.

Osborn-Byrd said she has many questions about what happened to her father on Saturday and has not been able to reach anyone at the Sheriff’s Office.

“I understand my father could be difficult, I understand that,” Osborn-Byrd said. “But I think in jails people can become complacent (with policy). I think they really need to look into what’s happening there.”

She added that her family was left with a lot of unanswered questions after the younger Osborn’s death.

“They never seemed to answer our questions,” Osborn-Byrd said. “Their timeline never really jibed with what we had heard and understood about my brother.”

Osborn-Byrd said she was not familiar with the terms of the 2004 settlement into her brother’s death.

She added the family plans to hold a memorial for Osborn Sr. at First Christian Church, 2050 Ironwood Ave. in Morro Bay, in about three weeks.

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