Inmate Christopher Leong Died After Being Pinned To The Ground By Officers At California State Prison-Sacramento In Folsom

pexels-ron-lach-10474996FOLSOM, CALIFORNIA (April 16, 2024) – An inmate identified as Christopher Leong has tragically died after a confrontation involving jail guards at California State Prison-Sacramento in Folsom.

Sacramento County officials are saying that the incident began around 6:55 p.m. on April 12. Jail staff responded to some sort of “disturbance in a housing unit.”

CDCR officers claim that Christopher Leong charged at staff before he was taken to the ground and put in restraints. However, officers claim that the man continued to lash out after being put in restraints.

The officers then pinned him to the ground before he lost consciousness and stopped breathing. It remains unclear how long he was pinned to the ground.

Staff began providing medical aid to save the victim, but those efforts were not successful. Christopher Leong was later pronounced dead around 7:50 p.m. that same day.

A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.


Liability For Sacramento County Inmate Deaths

Jails are supposed to be places of rehabilitation. But far too often, inmates become the victims of assault, both at the hands of other inmates and correctional officers. According to the Journal of Correctional Healthcare, “Physical and sexual assault are part of the prison experience. Approximately 21% of male inmates are physically assaulted during a 6-month period. Sexual assault is estimated at between 2% and 5%.” Many in custody deaths for suspects as well as inmates involve instances of positional asphyxia. Positional asphyxia occurs when a person’s position prevents them from breathing properly. There are a number of situations where law enforcement could potentially cause a person to suffer positional asphyxia.

  • Physical Restraints: Placing a person on the ground in a prone position and using restraints such as handcuffs can compress their chest and restrict breathing.
  • Weight on the Back: Placing weight on someone’s back can restrict their ability to breathe normally. This will typically involve one or more officers placing their knees on a person.
  • Chronic Stress Positions: Forcing a person to maintain themselves in a stress position such as kneeling can lead to exhaustion and impair their breathing.
  • Pepper Spray and Tasers: If a person is in a slightly stressful position, the use of pepper spray or tasers can cause severe respiratory distress.

Depending on the facts of any case, a jail could be liable for the death of an inmate if it was caused by the excessive force of officers. Pursuant to 42 U.S. Code § 1983, every person who, under the color of any statute, law or ordinance, causes a citizen of the United States to be deprived of their rights secured by the constitution, shall be liable to the injured party in an action at law. There are specific laws in California banning officers from using techniques likely to result in positional asphyxia.

Consider, for example, Cal. Gov. Code § 7286.5. According to the statute, “(1) A law enforcement agency shall not authorize the use of a carotid restraint or choke hold by any peace officer employed by that agency. (2) A law enforcement agency shall not authorize techniques or transport methods that involve a substantial risk of positional asphyxia.” It is important that several steps be taken after any inmate dies in custody.

  • Eyewitnesses should be interviewed.
  • Body camera footage from all officers involved should be reviewed.
  • An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
  • A thorough investigation should be conducted.

In custody deaths caused by positional asphyxia are nearly always preventable and involve poor decisions on the part of law enforcement. Sadly, though, jails will do everything in their power to deny responsibility if one or more of their officers kill an inmate. When they do conduct an investigation, they will inevitably find that they did nothing wrong. This is why it is so important to have any in custody death evaluated by a legal professional. If someone that you love has died in custody, a civil rights attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.


Investigating Inmate Deaths At California State Prison-Sacramento In Folsom

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Christopher Leong. Any person who may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There needs to be a thorough investigation into all of the officers involved in this death. What happened is a total tragedy that should have never taken place.

Do you need more information about an in custody death at the California State Prison-Sacramento in Folsom? Our team of civil rights attorneys is here to answer any questions that you may have. We focus entirely on helping people who have been affected by law enforcement abuses of power. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any incident, we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.



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