Inmate Jerry Tomasek, 58, of Santa Rosa, Died From Medical Emergency Not Long After He Was Released From The Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility

SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA (September 24, 2023) – An inmate identified as Jerry Tomasek has tragically died following a medical emergency not long after staying at a Sonoma County Jail.

Sonoma County officials are saying that the death took place on September 12. Jerry Tomasek was booked into jail on September 4. He was transferred to a local hospital on September 6th after suffering from some type of medical emergency.

Sonoma County officials claim that they released him from custody after he was transported to the hospital. He was then transferred to a hospital in San Mateo County where his health continued to decline.

Sadly, Jerry Tomasek died due to complications on September 12. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office issued the following statement after the death. “While Tomasek was not in custody when he died, the incident will be investigated as an in-custody death because he suffered the medical emergency while in custody.”


Liability For Sonoma County Inmate Deaths

Far too many people die in custody every year to preventable illnesses and diseases. Some counties across California have substantially higher number of in-custody deaths. According to Analytica Consulting, “The number of deaths in these counties varies substantially. San Francisco, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties have relatively low numbers of total deaths. Los Angeles County has the highest total deaths at 290. San Diego County has the second highest total deaths at 141.” There are a number of steps that jails should take in order to prevent in-custody deaths.

  • Correctional officers should be well trained to understand when an inmate is in medical distress.
  • Jails should be adequately staffed by correctional officers and medical professionals.
  • Correctional officers should have ample access to Narcan in the event of an inmate overdose.

All inmates have a constitutional right to receive reasonably adequate healthcare. Failing to give inmates adequate care is a violation of their right to live free from cruel and unusual forms of punishment. When a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. For example, a jail may have allowed an inmate’s health to continue to deteriorate in a way that is life-threatening. Jail medical neglect can come in many different forms.

  • Inmates may not get the medication that they require.
  • Inmates may not get the care that they need for chronic health conditions.
  • A jail may fail to treat an inmate in the midst of an overdose.
  • A jail may fail to care for an inmate going through drug or alcohol withdrawal.
  • A jail may fail to address the mental health care needs of an inmate with thoughts of self-harm.

Jails are often quick to label in-custody deaths as “natural.” But this label can be highly misleading. Many in-custody deaths listed as natural involve inmates who were either neglected or consistently given sub-optimal care. Part of the problem is that jails often outsource healthcare to private companies primarily concerned with making money. These companies do not get more money for providing excellent healthcare. The family of any inmate that died in-custody may be able to seek some measure of justice through a civil claim.

Investigating Sonoma County In-Custody Deaths

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Jerry Tomasek. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There needs to be some accountability for what took place.

Do you need more information about a Sonoma County in-custody death? Our team of highly experienced civil rights advocates are here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that victims of jail medical neglect are aware of their rights and that those rights are being protected. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any collision we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at  (949) 825-5200.


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