Derrick Harden Died 1 Day After Arrest At The Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Street Station Jail

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (July 20, 2023) – A man identified as Derrick Harden has tragically died in custody at the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Street Station jail.

Los Angeles County officials are saying that the detainee was arrested around 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Derrick Harden was taken to the LAPD’s 77th Street Station jail.

Jail officials are saying that he required additional care following exposure to methamphetamine. He was then examined by emergency room physicians and cleared for booking before being taken back to jail.

Around 11:14 a.m. on Saturday, Derrick Harden stood up from his bottom bunk bed and then collapsed. He remained on the floor for some length of time before he was eventually discovered by jail personnel.

Correctional officers discovered him unresponsive and began life-saving measures alongside medical staff. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics were called to the scene and took over.

Unfortunately, efforts to revive him were not successful and he was pronounced dead. A full investigation into what happened remains ongoing at this time.


Liability For Los Angeles County Inmate Deaths

Los Angeles County has a long and sordid history with respect to the care it gives inmates. Far too many people are dying in custody and many of the victims were not even convicted of a crime when they died. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, “A Person Has Died in LA County Jails Nearly Every Week of 2023. This June, seven more people died in Los Angeles County jails. Their deaths brought the total number of people who have died while in the custody of the nation’s largest jail system this year to 25—just shy of one fatality every week.” There are a number of contributing factors to inmate deaths.

  • Jail officials may have not conducted a thorough medical screening of an inmate.
  • Jail officials may have failed to intervene to help an inmate in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Jail officials may have failed to give an inmate naloxone when they were in the midst of an overdose.
  • Jail officials may have failed to take reasonable steps to prevent one inmate from attacking another inmate.

Every inmate has a constitutional right to receive reasonably adequate healthcare. This includes getting care if they’ve consumed alcohol or illicit substances. A large portion of the people entering jails struggle with substance abuse problems. It is essential that they get proper treatment. When a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate who dies, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim.

Consider, for example, The Estate of Bernard Victorianne v. County of San Diego. A 28-year-old man was arrested for allegedly driving while under the influence. He told a nurse that he had recently taken methamphetamine as he was being booked into the jail. That nurse told correctional officers that he needed immediate medical care due to exposure to methamphetamine. Sadly, though, correctional officers failed to give him any additional care and  he died after becoming unresponsive in his prison cell. His family eventually reached a settlement with the county. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any in-custody death.

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • All surveillance footage related to the incident should be examined.
  • The medical records of the inmate that died should be reviewed.
  • An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
  • It should be determined if correctional officers followed protocol.

In custody deaths tend not to be random occurrences. Quite often, they are the result of indifference on the part of correctional officers who don’t give detainees proper care. The family of any person that died in custody has a right to know what happened. They also have the ability to seek some measure of justice through a constitutional claim. It is important that evidence is properly preserved after any incident. Evidence is what will ultimately be needed to determine liability.

Investigating In Custody Deaths At LAPD Jails

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Derrick Harden. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There needs to be some accountability for the sheer number of in-custody deaths in LA County.

Do you need more information about a Los Angeles County in-custody death? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to help in any way that we can. We focus entirely on instances of police abuse and jail neglect. It is our mission to make sure that inmates and their families are aware of their constitutional rights and to protect those rights. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any in-custody death we are here for you. You are always welcome to reach out to us anytime at  (949) 825-5200.


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