FBI, Sheriff’s Office address SLO County Jail death investigation

Posted at 8:47 PM, Aug 01, 2017

The FBI clarified on Tuesday it’s already months into investigating possible civil right violations at the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

The series of events began in the wake of the death of Andrew Holland, an inmate with schizophrenia who passed away in January. The coroner’s report was released April 11, showing Holland died of a blood clot shortly after being restrained in a chair for 46 hours.

Two days later, on April 13, 60-year-old inmate Kevin McLaughlin died in jail. McLaughlin reportedly complained of shoulder pain and was treated by a nurse. An hour later, he had trouble breathing. Deputies performed CPR until an ambulance arrived, but paramedics were unable to revive him.

The sheriff’s office held a news conference that day and invited the FBI to investigate.

"My request was that they conduct an independent investigation into any jail death that has occurred that they felt was worthy of their investigation," said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson at the news conference in April.

The District Attorney’s Office says it is investigating McLaughlin’s death and the results are now in review.

The DA’s office has also taken 12 separate requests to open an investigation into Andrew Holland’s death. Those requests are being forwarded to the FBI, which has been looking into the incident for several months.

"The FBI is conducting an investigation at the county jail to determine whether any civil rights violations occurred. The results of our investigation will be forwarded to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. where it will be determined whether further investigation and/or prosecution is warranted," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in an email.

On Tuesday, authorities at the jail reiterated they requested an investigation.

"The sheriff had a conversation with a special agent in charge that was here from the LA criminal division and asked them to come in and investigate that case. We are cooperating fully with the FBI in that investigation and have provided them with all information and documentation that they have requested from us," said Detective Commander Brian Hascall with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

No charges have been filed and there is no time frame on a civil rights investigation, says Hascall.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has said it does not have proper facilities to hold people suffering from severe mental health issues.

The Holland family reached a $5 million settlement with the county last week. The family plans to start a foundation in Andrew’s name with that money.

The jail also made some changes to keep this from happening again, including discontinuing the use of restraint chairs.