Questions after 2 die, 1 hurt in county custody

January 31, 2017
Jeremiah Mobley's booking photo transferred to grey scale

Jeremiah Mobley’s booking photo transferred to grey scale

By KAREN VELIE

Editor’s Note: This is part one in a two-part series about San Luis Obispo County health services and sheriff department’s treatment of the mentally ill.

Two men died and a third man seriously injured himself while in county custody in January. A handful of county workers say the deaths and injury could have been prevented if San Luis Obispo County followed state guidelines for dealing with the mentally ill.

County employees, who requested anonymity because they fear retaliation, said that mentally ill inmates and patients are being mistreated and neglected by county staff. The mistreatment includes long-term isolation, incorrect and over medication and failure to provide adequate health care, the employees said.

Early last summer, police arrested 56-year-old Anthony Vazquez on a misdemeanor charge and booked him into the San Luis Obispo County Jail. However, a San Luis Obispo County Court dropped the charges and ordered Vazquez transferred to the county mental health facility.

On Oct. 5, county staff checked Vazquez into the county mental health facility and county doctors began prescribing medications to treat his mental health issues, sources said.

Several months later, Vazquez said he was feeling bad and began pleading to see a doctor other than the one at the county facility, telling staff and others that he thought he was dying.

“Anthony would ask, ‘Please don’t let me die in here,’ ” a source familiar with the events surrounding Vazquez’ death said.

However, mental health supervisory staff and the county conservator, who took control over Vazquez several weeks before he died, refused to allow Vazquez outside medical care, sources said. Dr. Eugene Edward Kercher, 77, hired to see patients at the facility, also failed to send Vazquez to a hospital or outside physician, sources said.

Following his decision not to provide Vazquez access to other health care providers, some county staffers questioned Dr. Kercher’s medical competency.

Several weeks ago, Vazquez’ blood pressure dropped. He was rushed to French Hospital Medical Center where he died as the result of a gastrointestinal bleed, sources said.

While county staffers question the treatment of patients at the county mental health facility, the mentally ill may fair worse at the SLO County Jail, county employees say.SLO County Jail

Andrew Chaylon Holland, 36, was booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail in September of 2015 on a charge of resisting arrest. Holland suffered from schizophrenia and had been going through a change of medication, his family said.

While in the county jail, Holland was held in isolation and given ineffective medication, his family said. He then became combative with staff and was repeatedly charged with battery of an officer.

Shortly before Christmas, Holland was stripped and thrown naked into a small concrete cell with rubber padding, no bedding and a hole in the floor for his waste, sources said. After several weeks, deputies moved Holland out of the rubber room and back to his isolation cell.

On Jan. 10, a San Luis Obispo County Court ordered Holland into a mental health facility. He was not transferred.

The county mental health facility regularly refuses to receive inmates claiming either there are no beds available or licensing issues prevent the facility from accepting more inmates. As a result, the jail is out of compliance with California’s Title 15 regarding treatment of mentally ill inmates, according to a 2015 audit of the jail.

On Jan. 20, deputies moved Holland into the drunk tank to await transfer to the county mental health facility. However, staff from county mental health said there were no beds available and Holland was left naked and without a bed in the drunk tank for two days, sources said.

The 2015 state audit found that San Luis Obispo County has understaffed medical personnel at the jail. Both inmates and staff have suffered, the state audit found.

The jail was seriously understaffed on Jan. 22 when two medical emergencies occurred at about the same time. Jeremiah Mobley, an inmate who was locked naked in the rubber room, began to claw at his eyes. Medical staff was attending to Mobley when Holland collapsed and went into respiratory arrest at the other end of the jail complex, sources said.

The cause of Holland’s death has not yet been disclosed.

Mobley was later taken from his cell and transported to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. At Sierra, Mobley was evaluated and deemed safe to book into jail.

With his eyes bloodied and swollen, deputies booked Mobley into the county jail before transferring him to the county mental health facility. After spending one night in the custody of county mental health, a family member agreed to purchase Mobley a bus ticket to his home town. A county staffer then drove Mobley to the San Luis Obispo’s train station so that he could board a bus headed out of the county.

After several minutes on the bus, Mobley became combative and refused to sit down. The bus driver then asked Mobley to leave the bus, Manuel Reyes said. After spending more than an hour in the train station restroom, personnel called law enforcement officers who drove Mobley back to SLO County’s mental health facility.


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Lilylu

Unfortunately????? What exactly do you mean by that Mr. Tatro? You think it is unfortunate that the mentally ill have to be treated and housed humanely???? I agree that the mental health system in our country is in shambles but those with a mental illness did not ask for their illness anymore than people ask for cancer or diabetes. They have a right to dignity and respect like anyone else. SLO county has a lot to answer for in their treatment for the mentally ill.


And by the way Mr. Tatro you ticketed 5 people (how many total did you ticket that day?) I know on the same day in Paso Robles at the same three way stop sign where you were parked for hours trying to make $240.00 per ticket for the City of Paso Robles. It is well known that officers were ordered to hit quotas for tickets back then. I guess it made for a lot easier work shift than “protecting and serving” those with a mental illness and treating them humanely all at the same time. So sorry that that mentally ill were so hard for you to deal with in the scope of your duties. However, I am really glad you are now retired from a job you were obviously not cut out for.


c.d.cox

Reopen Camerillo.


givemeabreak

The County is in bed with Transitions Mental Health. They put out really PRETTY glossy flyers about how they help everyone (Transitions) . They dont do shit. Synergy had plans to put a facility up on the hill behind SLO County Mental Health. Their plans were quite extensive. The county blew them off as once again they are in bed with Transitions. Someone needs to contact Synergy and ask them why the county blew them off. No pun intended.


L.A.RamsFan

This shit makes me angry! So fuckin’ much so I cried at the sight of this man’s picture!


Look at him! Look at him! He’s not only blind but now is the “poster child” of SLO’s intolerance! Do any of you get that?! He is the reflection, the product of, your inability to show compassion for anything you don’t understand, won’t understand! Your version of “normal” is so fucked up that you’ll make it okay for this guy to reside in a county jail where it is a proven fact that he not only can but often will kill himself and you’ll ultimately level the blame on him!


I know the bed rock of your twisted sense of moral(s), it’s all about the “image” of the Happiest Place on Earth. You like that title, you immerse yourselves in it, you reserve it for all that you see as “normal” and anything that fogs that image is not only not a part of it but a foreign caused scar upon it.


You know who really needs some mental health intervention here, SLO as a whole! Because it is very clear your “self denial” has gotten to the point of being a danger to society!


gangsta1

LA Rams Fan: I agree with you 100 percent on the guilty before proven innocent statement.I am going through that wrongful perception right now in SLO county. Problem is that I am 1,600 miles away and have to walk back to clear my name.All because of SLO guilty before innocent standards of thinking.


L.A.RamsFan

Go figure! In a county that that convicts those at time of arrest why are we even surprised that those with less of a voice would be treated any better. The community of SLO is just as much to blame as those who perpetrated this kind of shit! The obvious empathy that most of you have voiced in past posts speak not loudly but deafening in regards to your “guilty until proven innocent” sick-ass-un-American mind set!


Before y’all go pointing fingers at anyone just remember that when you do three fingers point directly back at you…


Rawhide

Dr. Eugene Edward Kercher


AGE 77


That about sums it up…Probably shouldn’t be driving neither…


L.A.RamsFan

So, when you turn 77 you’ll voluntarily give up your driving privileges? Bet not!


givemeabreak

I heard the good doctor is ready for retirement. The county pays horribly so is not able to get the best. If they do they immediately bail when they see how things are run. You might wan to contact a Dr. Haniel Shen who is now practicing in San Francisco whom is a Psychiatrist that used to work for SLO County. He saw how inept the “professionals” were and RAN!


TacomaRose

What I find very troubling is why mental health would put a man (who was recently blinded) on a public bus after only 1 day of being in the mental health hospital. How could he have been stable enough to have been released on public transportation let alone be able to care for himself after losing his sight.


The danger to himself was great as was the danger to the other people on the bus.


If he would have hurt someone on the bus can you imagine the liability on the county?


If the mental health doctor signed off on letting this man travel after he lost his sight

and if he signed off on putting him on a public bus then the doctor should lose his license.


Also who was the doctor at Sierra Vista who signed off by claiming Mobly was safe enough to book into jail? Seriously … a man gouges his own eyes out and he’s deemed safe enough to be booked and lodged at the jail?


What the hell is going on here?


L.A.RamsFan

I’ll tell you exactly what’s goin’ on here…


There are no funds available for those in need of mental health services and where there is no room available in a hospital, where they belong, they will make room for them in a jail! Is that wrong? You god damn right it is! The doctors who release them probably have no other recourse as there is no room available… They release them probably knowing that law enforcement will be the next contact these folks will have and a bed will be available no matter how overcrowded the jail is… What a f***ed up solution!


We’ve spent billions on a “War on Drugs”, billions! And all the while expenditures for the mentally ill has declined. It’s a double damned situation y’all have cosigned; the “War” is an abysmal failure while it’s funding goes unabated as the menially ill still suffer with less options.


I have read that the amount of dollars spent on this idiotic “War” equals about $500.00 a MINUTE! $500.00 a minute?!!! What the f***!


Stop bitchin’ about it and start offering some solutions! No, not offer but DEMAND solutions! I have mine…. For every dollar spent of this stupid ass unwinnable “War on Drugs” make it mandatory to spend JUST .25 cents of every one of those dollars on mental health beds in this country.


Niles Q

The war on drugs is to blame? Horse shit. How many of the mentally ill people started heading that direction through drug abuse? How many freaks are walking the streets today crazy as hell BECAUSE they are fucked up on drugs?


Fighting illegal hard drugs like heroin (which is near epidemic in SLO County), cocaine and meth, all drugs that will certainly drive a person crazy, must be done. And all these drugs are coming to America over the Mexican border, which is the one and only reason we need to secure and control the border.


givemeabreak

I AGREE, WHY would a “competent” doctor discharge someone in that shape?


givemeabreak

This county needs a DETOX unit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PLAIN and SIMPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ANY QUESTIONS?????????????????????????


Jon Tatro

As a retired police officer the mentally ill people were always the hardest to deal with. If they weren’t going to immediately hurt themselves or others we couldn’t 5150 them but you knew they were one bad day from going off. Unfortunately we have to go back to the day of “humanely” housing these people and getting the therapy.


L.A.RamsFan

I have to ask: why would it be “unfortunate” to do so? Why? Other than making your job easier how can it be anything but the RIGHT THING TO DO! Unfortunate? No! Inconvenient? Yea it would be if you are of the mind set that these folks are no different than those arrested that don’t have their obvious inequalities. They, the mentally ill, are the litmus test for law enforcement in their said “Protect and Serve” RESPONSIBILITIES and for the most part Jon ALL of you have failed miserably in this.


Rainflower

Heres to problem in a nutshell. Mentally ill people due to the nature of their illness, do things that get them arrested. Then they go to jail. The jail is a jail and not a hospital. Even though they have health care staff they don’t have the equipment and resources that a hospital does. The way that current laws are, its difficult to hospitalize someone with a mental illness involuntarily. So they go to jail to get into the system, and the jail is a jail and not a hospital.