Bryan Diaz, 18, Died Following Suspected Drug Overdose At Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall In Sylmar

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (July 9, 2023) – A teenager identified as Bryan Diaz has tragically died following an apparent overdose at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar.

The incident took place a few weeks after a state oversight board declined to shut down the youth jail. Bryan Diaz was found unresponsive in his room at Unit X.

Paramedics were called to the scene and began life-saving measures. Sadly, though, Bryan Diaz was pronounced dead at approximately 8:28 a.m. that morning.

There are reports that the teenager may have been dead for some time prior to medical intervention by correctional officers. Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall has been plagued by numerous reports of a dangerous drug overdose problem.

One probation officer has said that heroin and fentanyl have been rampant in the facility. A full investigation into the suspected overdose remains ongoing at this time.


Liability For In Custody Overdose Deaths

Drug overdoses remain one of the leading causes of in custody death in the United States. Fentanyl has proven to be particularly destructive. According to the biomedical journal Springer Nature, “Fentanyl and related compounds have recently saturated the illicit drug supply in the United States, leading to unprecedented rates of fatal overdose. Individuals who are incarcerated are particularly vulnerable, as the burden of opioid use disorder is disproportionately higher in this population, and tolerance generally decreases during incarceration.” There are a number of symptoms that could indicate a potential fentanyl overdose.

  • Slow, weak or shallow breathing
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Small, constricted pupils
  • Choking or gurgling sounds

Every inmate has a constitutional right to receive reasonably adequate healthcare. This includes getting inmates medical care when they are in the midst of a drug overdose. Opioid overdoses are largely preventable. An inmate going through an overdose should typically receive naloxone and CPR prior to a hospital admission. When a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a Constitutional claim. California counties have settled numerous claims after inmates have died from drug overdoses in their care.

Consider, for example, The Estate of Bernard Victorianne v. County of San Diego. A 28-year-old man was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence. As he was being booked into prison, he confided in a nurse that he recently swallowed a bag of methamphetamine. That nurse informed officers of the life-threatening situation and told them that he needed immediate medical care. Despite this, the inmate was placed in solitary confinement where he later died. The county eventually settled with the inmate’s family. There are many steps that should be taken after any in custody death.

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • An private autopsy may need to be performed.
  • A thorough investigation should be conducted.
  • Surveillance footage related to the incident should be reviewed.

Many inmate deaths are preventable and due to inadequate care on the part of jail staff. There are many reasons for this. A large number of jails outsource medical care to for profit companies that are more concerned with making money than keeping inmates safe and healthy. The family of any inmate that died in custody may be able to seek some measure of justice through a wrongful death claim. A civil claim can help hold jails accountable for their care or lack thereof which contributed to a death.


Investigating In Custody Deaths At Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Bryan Diaz. This was a tragic outcome that should have been prevented. Correctional officers have known for a long time about the flow of heroin and fentanyl coming into the facility. State regulators should review what happened and consider measures to prevent other tragedies like this down the road.

Have you or someone that you love been harmed by the negligence of correctional officers at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. Our legal team is dedicated entirely to helping people who have been harmed by government abuses and neglect. We know how to hold jails and youth facilities accountable for their actions. Whether you just have legal questions or need more information about a particular incident we may be able to help. You can reach out to us anytime at  (949) 825-5200.