Mentally ill prisoner died in California jail as deputies watched, video reveals
The Associated Press via The Guardian | Source URL
An administrative officer called the footage ‘extremely painful to watch’. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Deputies sometimes laughed as the man, who had been strapped naked to a chair for 46 hours, writhed on the floor of his cell
A jailhouse video reveals California sheriff’s deputies watching and sometimes laughing as a schizophrenic man, who had been strapped naked to a chair for 46 hours, writhes on the floor of his cell, loses consciousness and eventually dies.
The Tribune of San Luis Obispo on Friday posted a nearly eight-minute video of Andrew Holland’s death on 22 January 2017. The newspaper said it reviewed more than 100 hours of jailhouse surveillance video in all.
Wade Horton, a San Luis Obispo County administrative officer, called the footage “extremely painful to watch”.
“What happened to Andrew Holland was a tragedy that impacts our entire community,” Horton told the Tribune in an email. “Although we can’t bring Andrew back, our county has made and continues to make changes in response to this terrible event.”
Last year, the county awarded Holland’s family $5m for his death, which a medical examiner determined was caused by a pulmonary embolism. The Tribune reported that authorities have since stopped using the restraint chair, but the sheriff, Ian Parkinson, would not say whether anyone had been disciplined.
Holland, 36, had schizophrenia since his early 20s and was incarcerated on and off over the years, usually for minor offenses. He was taken into custody in 2015 on charges of battery, resisting an officer and probation violations. He was strapped into the chair after repeatedly hitting himself.
The video posted on the Tribune’s website shows sheriff’s deputies periodically entering his cell to rotate his arms and legs and offer him food and water. Strapped to the chair, he is unable to use a nearby toilet.
County policy requires rotating a restrained inmate’s extremities every one to two hours to prevent blood clots that can lead to a fatal embolism.
The newspaper reported that Holland was released from the chair and moved to another cell so human waste that collected under his chair, and is visible in the video, could be cleaned up.
Video of him in the other cell shows him lying on a tile floor with just a blanket. At one point, he stands up briefly, appears to be stricken by tremors and lies down again, covering himself with the blanket. Soon after, he appears to have trouble breathing, then loses consciousness.
Several deputies and paramedics enter the cell and attempt to revive him, while one deputy stands smiling and talking to another.
“We had hope that his life would improve, but on 22 January of this year, our son Andrew died a brutal and tortured death at the hands of the custodial staff at San Luis Obispo County jail,” Holland’s mother, Sharon, told reporters last July.
The family, which has said it will use the settlement money to establish a not-for-profit to advocate for the rights of mentally ill people in the criminal justice system, declined to comment further this week.