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SLO County Jail Named in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

SLO County Jail Named in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

San Luis Obispo County (SLO) is the center of a wrongful death lawsuit that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating. The medical and mental care for inmates at the county jail has come into question.

The investigation is on the jail’s overall treatment and is said not to be a result of a single incident.

SLO was named days prior in a wrongful death lawsuit by a widow of an inmate. Margo Benson-Hammer filed the lawsuit claiming that her husband, Russell Hammer, was not given the mental health treatment he needed while in custody last year.

She claims that the entire time her husband was in jail, he never had his medical or psychological needs met. He was mistreated, according to the claim.

Hammer’s autopsy revealed that he died from a pulmonary embolism which was a result from a blood clot that originated in the inmate’s leg. Hammer isn’t the first inmate to die from an embolism in the jail’s custody. Earlier in the year, Andrew Holland died from an embolism after he was restrained to a chair in the jail for a period of two days.

Hammer’s wife claims that the jail has not made the corrections they promised after the death of Holland, changes that may have potentially saved her husband’s life.

Out of all of California’s counties, SLO jail has the sixth highest rate of inmate death in the last 5 years. There were 12 inmate deaths between 2012 and 2017 at the jail.

The 62-year-old Hammer had psychosis and was said to be left naked and suffering while in custody. Hammer died on November 27 after he complained of chest pains and shortness of breath. Jail staff was transporting the inmate to the medical facility when he died.

Coroner reports suggest that his death was natural, yet he was the third inmate in the jail to die in 2017.

Reports suggest that the man attacked his wife three weeks before his death with a knife. His wife reportedly begged police officers not to arrest her husband and instead place him in what’s called an “emergency mental health hold,” also known as a “50-51.” Hammer was brought to jail after a doctor’s authorization despite the fact that he was suffering from a medical crisis at the time.