Jails Kill Prisoners or Neglect Them To Suffer and Die; Then Blame Death on Deceased

Sonoma County D.A. says "no fault" in Jail Death

By Mary Callahan, Press Democrat: June 11, 2010

The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office has concluded that a 44-year-old Santa Rosa man found dead in his bunk at the county jail last fall succumbed to sudden cardiac arrest. Prosecutors said there was no evidence of negligence related to the Sept. 18 death of Jon Gerald Moore. “After reviewing all of the evidence in this case, it is apparent that this was a tragic death due to natural causes and did not involve criminal negligence on the part of any individual,” Assistant District Attorney Diana Gomez said in a written statement. “Therefore, no criminal charges are warranted. The District Attorney's Office routinely reviews in-custody deaths under a countywide protocol aimed at ensuring objective investigation of cases in which someone dies while in the hands of law enforcement authorities.

Many such cases prove controversial and, in the past, have raised questions and complaints about the handling of medical needs, addictions and treatment of suspects and inmates. Authorities have often pointed to the high-risk lifestyles of jail inmates, the affects of drug and alcohol abuse, and the likelihood that a large jail population would have a proportional number of medical emergencies and fatalities. Moore was arrested a week before his death on a $15,000 warrant issued for failure to appear in drug court. He was serving 110 days in jail for his fourth violation of probation related to a drug possession charge when he was found unresponsive in his bunk by jail staff who went to awaken him for a pre-dawn kitchen shift.

Authorities said the jail staff had checked on him every half hour in the preceding hours and immediately attempted life-saving techniques. “As soon as jail staff became aware that Mr. Moore was non-responsive, they acted lawfully and with due care in an attempt to save his life,” Gomez said. Firefighters and paramedics made resuscitation attempts, as did personnel at Kaiser Hospital, where Moore was declared dead. An autopsy showed significant enlargement of his heart, authorities said. The pathologist said Moore died of dilated cardiomyopathy and hypertensive heart disease.

As soon as jail staff became aware that Mr. Moore was non-responsive, they acted lawfully and with due care in an attempt to save his life,” Gomez said. Firefighters and paramedics made resuscitation attempts, as did personnel at Kaiser Hospital, where Moore was declared dead. An autopsy showed significant enlargement of his heart, authorities said. The pathologist said Moore died of dilated cardiomyopathy and hypertensive heart
disease.