Inmate Jaime Gonzalez (Full Name: Jaime Angel Gonzalez) Died Following Suspected Overdose While Staying At Santa Barbara County Northern Branch Jail In Santa Maria

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SANTA MARIA, CALIFORNIA (March 4, 2024) – A 33-year-old inmate identified as Jaime Gonzalez has tragically died while in custody at Santa Barbara County Northern Branch Jail.

Santa Barbara County officials are saying that the incident involved a suspected overdose. Officers were called to a sober living house after receiving a call about a dispute.

Jaime Gonzalez admitted to recent drug use, and responding deputies attempted to arrest him. He led officers on a brief foot pursuit before he was captured and transported to the Santa Barbara County Northern Branch Jail.

Officers considered transporting him to the hospital after he complained about pain, but they failed to do so prior to taking him to jail. After being placed in a cell, Jaime Gonzalez became unresponsive and later died at the hospital.

His suspected cause of death is a methamphetamine overdose. According to the district attorney, ‘physical force’ by responding officers was a considerable factor in his death.

 

Liability For Santa Barbara County Inmate Deaths

Jails remain incredibly dangerous places, even in the best of circumstances. One of the hazards that inmates face is overdosing while in custody. According to National Public Radio, “Prisons and jails in the United States have been increasingly deadly places in recent years, according to new federal data. But one cause of death has climbed most dramatically: overdoses.” There are many different substances that an inmate may overdose on.

  • Opioids
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methamphetamine
  • Alcohol
  • Sedatives
  • Ketamine

Jails have a legal obligation to provide adequate medical care for all inmates. This includes helping inmates who are going through an overdose. The moment that officers suspect an inmate is at heightened risk of an overdose because they have recently taken drugs, they should get that person cared for as fast as possible. When a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim.

A law enforcement agency could also be liable for a person’s death if they used excessive force, which contributed to the death. 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. It is important that certain steps be taken after any inmate’s death.

  • Eyewitnesses should be interviewed.
  • Medical records should be preserved.
  • Surveillance footage should be sought.
  • An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.

Law enforcement will often do everything within their power to deny responsibility if someone in their care dies. Jails are often quick to label inmate deaths as “natural” or “accidental,” but these euphemisms are often highly misleading. Many inmate deaths involve some amount of medical neglect or mistreatment. The family of any person who died in custody may be able to seek some measure of justice through a civil claim. A civil rights attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.

 

Investigating Santa Barbara County Inmate Deaths

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Jaime Gonzalez. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent other incidents like this. There needs to be some accountability for the sake of this man’s family.

Do you need more information about an inmate death at the Santa Barbara County Northern Branch Jail? Our team of civil rights attorneys is here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that inmates are aware of their rights and that jails are protecting inmates. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support, we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.

 

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