Questions surround inmate’s death

April 25, 2014

jailBy KAREN VELIE

The mother of a man who died after being incarcerated in the San Luis Obispo County Jail is questioning why her son was placed in a cell rather than taken to a hospital after officers determined he was 5150, a danger to himself or others, or possibly under the influence.

Last month, Josey Meche, 28, was found unresponsive on a cell floor and died shortly afterwards from a heart attack. At the time of his death, he had a 105.1 temperature, a staph infection and a toxic level of methamphetamine in his system, according to the autopsy report.

At about 10 p.m. on March 11, San Luis Obispo police received a report of a suspicious person standing in a yard on Mountain View Street holding a stick. Officers arrived to find Meche disheveled, without shoes and bleeding from gashes on the top of his feet.

The officers asked Meche to drop the stick and sit down, which he did, according to a sheriff’s report based on police videos. Meche then “passively resisted by not allowing officers to handcuff him,” the report says.

Officers then arrested Meche for obstructing justice by resisting arrest.

When he was asked by officers why he was at the residence, Meche said “he drank some acid, his blood was thickening and he needed some water,” the police report says.

Under the leadership of San Luis Obispo Police Chief Stephen Gesell, the number of people arrested for the crime of resisting arrest has increased 104 percent. In the two years prior to Gesell’s hiring, 2010 and 2011, there were 95 arrests in San Luis Obispo for resisting arrest. During Gesell’s first two years that number increased to 194, for 2012 and 2013, according to police records procured through a public records request.

After taking Meche into custody, the officers transported him to the police station where he pulled hair from his face, was disjointed in his actions and spoke of aliens, according to the sheriff’s report.

Generally, people deemed 5150, a danger to themselves or others, are transported to a hospital for a medical clearance before being checked into a mental health facility. However, in this case Meche was arrested and jailed.

Shortly after 11 p.m., deputies placed Meche in cell five in the fishbowl, an area with glass fronted cells for observation of new arrestees. Shortly after entering his cell, Meche flailed on the ground for less than a minute and then stood up and began pacing, according to the sheriff’s report based on jail surveillance videos.

At 11:54 p.m., the video shows that Meche is on the floor again with his hands and legs moving. During several cell checks, deputies see Meche flailing on the ground, the report says.

At 12:15 a.m., after more than 20 minutes of flailing on the ground, Meche rolls onto his stomach and stops moving. At 12:26 a.m., a deputy attempts to rouse Meche who is lying unresponsive on the concrete floor streaked with blood from the wounds on his feet.

Shortly afterwards, deputies began performing CPR. Meche was pronounced dead at 1:49 a.m. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Coroner’s Office ruled the death accidental.

Meche is the second inmate to die shortly after being discovered incapacitated in a San Luis Obispo County Jail cell. On Jan. 23, Rudy Joseph Silva was transported to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center where he died of influenza and a staphylococcus infection four days later.


36 Comments

  1. NorthCountyGuy says:

    Can’t fix stupid!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 6

  2. standup says:

    For all the money we waste on sending these stupid officers to training classes put on by the corrupt CA Narcotic’s Officers Assoc. to identify people on meth, where is the training on how to safely insure this person doesn’t die in jail due to total neglect? Meth use is a disease and should be treated as such. I hope all the lame ass officers involved are proud of themselves for assisting in this man’s death. All settlement money should come out of their overblown pensions. Pretty sad.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 33

    • Answer4U says:

      Wow! Based on your comment, it is clearly evident how IGNORANT you are!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

      • standup says:

        Let their track record stand for itself. They already lost a major lawsuit against a Templeton man for holding him face down on while he was on meth until he died. It’s funny how most of the ignorant people who gave me a negative post consider alcoholism a disease but not for other drugs?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

        • Cindy says:

          standup, I understand what you’re saying however consider the differences and circumstances behind addiction and it’s many forms. Most people don’t become alcoholics and nobody plans on that happening when they join others in their first social drink. Like wise, I feel sorry for people who accidentally become addicted to prescribed pain killers or sedatives as that isn’t something that they asked for.

          The problem with illegal drugs is that people are warned again and again about the danger of those drugs and the likely hood of addiction. They have to go out of their way to find those drugs and they know that they are playing a dangerous game when they use them. Then we’re supposed to feel sorry for them when they get addicted? Funny thin is, I actually do feel sorry for people with addictions but it’s not the same as for those who came by it innocently.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  3. mkaney says:

    Karen can you elaborate on what Gisell means when he says someone is arrested for the crime of resisting arrest? Does that mean they are charged with that crime in addition to a crime for which they were being arrested, but resisted? Or does that mean that resisting arrest is the crime which they were actually arrested for?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

    • achillesheal says:

      One is typically charged with resisting arrest after having been beaten by the police. The purpose of the resisting arrest charge is to show the beating was justified and not simply the police battering the perp.

      At least that’s how it was used in my day.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 24

  4. Lilylu says:

    This man should have been taken to a hospital and received medial treatment. If he was indeed a 5150 then yes he should have been taken to a mental health facility. Yes he had taken meth. Yes he was sick. Yes he may have had a mental illness. That does not mean he should have died on ground with law enforcement personnel watching him flail around. Just by virtue of being human he should have been treated with dignity and respect. Many drug users begin and continue to use drugs and alcohol because they are self medicating in an attempt to control symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, and bi polar disorder and anxiety. We as a society must begin to treat mental illnesses as the illness as it is, not by stigmatizing people. I work in the mental health profession and have compassion for the patients and their families as they battle against these devastating illnesses and battle against the ignorance and judgement of many.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 11

    • Thulium says:

      The county mental health department will not accept mentally ill peoplec who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They do not have the proper training or facilities to deal with them. Their facility is old and does not have adequate bedspace for the explosion in mentally ill individuals we are seeing in this county, many of which are caused by drug abuse. Officers are thus given the option of taking them to the E.R. where they will have to guard them or take them to jail where the correctional staff, including nurses and psych techs can watch over them. It is a terrible thing that this man died, but I don’t think the police forced him to ingest methamphetamine.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3

  5. obispan says:

    How is the hospital going to examine someone in such a state so as to be able to give “medical clearance”? How many deputies is it going to take to restrain him for tests and examination? Could they even then ensure the safety of hospital staff? Would not fighting with him rather placing him on his own in an observation cell until he calms down enough to be processed be prima facie more dangerous for the prisoner? And yes, someone is saying it’s “our fault”.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 22 Thumb down 13

    • pismo20 says:

      He was not combative, he followed directions and was not resisting at the jail earlier stories said. So why would the hospital staff have issues. When someone is sick or overdoses, we are supposed to lock them in a cage and watch while they die slowly. What a great society we live in.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 19

    • hijinks says:

      Hospitals know how to deal with this sort of patient. If he became combative, they’d use restraints. Heck, with a 105 temperature, they’d probably have thrown him into the ICU. He must have been very sick, and for the police and jailers to miss this is, well, criminal.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 20

  6. fishing village says:

    so difficult, so much pain, heartbreaking,
    drugs are the cause
    I’m sorry

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 4

  7. givemeabreak says:

    If everybody arrested high on Meth was considered a 5150, there would be ZERO room at the county Mental Health department since they are only allowed by the state to hold 16 patients for the ENTIRE county.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 9

  8. givemeabreak says:

    So it is our fault that this guy took too much meth?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 33 Thumb down 12

  9. slowtime says:

    Meth is bad.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 34 Thumb down 5

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