Coroner says SF inmate died at hands of jailers
Recordnet.com, September 24, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An attorney for the family of an obese San Francisco jail inmate who died at the hands of jailers during a struggle said Friday she planned to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Geri Green said she was readying a federal lawsuit that would also claim authorities violated the civil rights of 31-year-old Issiah Downes, who died just over a year ago.
Chief Medical Examiner Amy Hart said Thursday that the 307-pound man was in handcuffs when he went limp and died after he was restrained by sheriff’s deputies in a padded safety cell on Sept. 7, 2009.
The coroner says he died of positional asphyxia after the second of two struggles with deputies.
The San Francisco Chronicle says Downes had complained about the television being shut off and became agitated because he was going to be moved to an isolation cell. There was a second struggle inside a padded “safety cell” after inmates said they felt threatened by Downes.
Hart says death was caused by “probable respiratory arrest during prone restraint, with morbid obesity.”
Eileen Hirst, spokeswoman for Sheriff Mike Hennessey, said the office regrets the death but believes all department procedures were followed properly.