Last month, a former inmate at the San Luis Obispo County Jail filed a claim against the county after she says she witnessed the death of 36-year old Andrew Holland in January. Holland died from a blood clot after he was in a restraint chair for 46 hours.
Holland suffered from schizophrenia and the Sheriff’s Office says it did not have the proper facilities to keep someone in that situation.
According to a claim filed against the county, 52-year old Sherry Roy says she witnessed Holland’s death.
The claim says that on January 22, while serving time at the San Luis Obispo County Jail, Roy was assigned to clean the Inmate Reception’s Center. A correctional officer told Roy that she was going to be cleaning up “a room and a restraint chair that an inmate had been in for 48 hours,” according to the claim.
It also reads that Roy was given a mop, bucket, janitor’s cart and a pair of latex gloves, but no protective clothing or shoes beyond the standard jail-issued sandals with socks. The claim says Roy was told she would be cleaning what was described as human fluids and waste but that Roy was unaware whether the waste of the person she was cleaning had transmittable diseases.
The claim says that Roy was locked in the cell and forced to clean the waste with paper towels, with the odors making it difficult to breathe. A correctional officer opened the cell for Roy so that she could roll the restraint chair out to further clean the cell, which is when she says she saw Holland in the neighboring cell, “naked laying crumpled on the floor,” and she thought he was dead, according to the claim.
The claim says the staff there did nothing, and that when asked, one correctional officer said the man in the cell (Holland) was "holding his breath."
The claim reads that Holland was dead and that medical personnel entered the cell Holland was in but after several minutes left it with an empty gurney.
After Roy finished cleaning the cell Holland was originally in, the claim says she saw “correctional officers and jail staff laughing and talking despite the dead man who lay in the cell,” according to the claim.
KSBY reached out to Roy and received this response: “I was a witness to Andrew Holland’s horrible suffering at the hands of the San Luis Obispo Sheriffs. I hope that by bringing this claim it helps the public get answers about how this happened. I also hope the County releases the surveillance tape of what I saw. What happened to Andrew should never happen again."
According to County Counsel Rita Neal, the county intends to reject Roy’s claims.
Meanwhile, Roy is seeking in excess of $25,000 for the following damages, among others:
- Inability to work
- Violations of State and Federal Constitutional Rights; violations of State and Federal Statutes
- Emotional distress
- Therapy and treatment for the trauma
At the time of the incident, Roy was serving time at SLO County Jail for charges related to grand theft in 2013. She says she was released from jail this past February.