Parents say their mentally ill son was tortured and killed in county jail

February 25, 2017

Carty and Andrew Holland


Editor’s Note: This is part one in a two-part series about the death of Andrew Holland and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department’s use of restraints and safety cells.

Andrew Holland knew he could not always control his schizophrenia, but he tried to explain his sometimes erratic behavior to guards at the San Luis Obispo County Jail. Following a psychotic break on Jan. 20, deputies strapped Holland naked in a restraint chair where he remained until shortly before his death, two days later, according to jail records.

While in restraints, blood clots formed in the 36-year-old man’s legs. Upon his release, the blood clots traveled to his lungs causing a pulmonary embolism and his death, according to a preliminary autopsy report. Holland’s parents say they believe sheriff deputies tortured and killed their 36-year-old son.

“I do feel like my son Andrew didn’t just die at the county jail, he was killed, said Sharon Holland, Andrew Holland’s mother. “He was not the first person with mental illness whose life has been taken there, and if something doesn’t change, he will not be the last.”

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

After suffering a mental health episode in San Luis Obispo on Sept. 30, 2015, police arrested Holland for resisting arrest and battery of a peace officer. Instead of transporting Holland to a mental health facility as is protocol in many California counties, officers booked him into the county jail where he was permanently placed in isolation.

Several months ago, Holland’s parents pleaded with jail medical staff to allow their son to take the psychiatric medications that work for him. However, at the jail, medications are not chosen because of effectiveness, but the cost, sources said. Upon arrival at the jail, psychiatric technicians select which medications to give their mentally ill charges, and then county physicians sign the prescriptions, sources said.

As a result of being abruptly taken off their usual medications, many mentally ill inmates at the jail spiral downhill. Inmates complain of seizures and psychotic breaks as their bodies attempt to adjust to their changing medications.

For Andrew Holland, his problems with medications and a lack of psychiatric treatment appeared insurmountable. During a year and a half in isolation, Andrew Holland suffered several psychotic breaks that led to additional charges lodged against him for battery of a custodial officer.

On Dec. 30, guards took Andrew Holland from his isolation cell, stripped him down and threw him naked into a small concrete cell with rubber padding, no bedding and a hole in the floor for his waste, according to jail records.

On Jan. 10, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Duffy ordered the sheriff’s department to transfer Holland to Atascadero State Hospital (ASH). He was not transferred.

For years, the mentally ill have languished in the jail even though the court has ordered the sheriff’s department to either transfer the mentally ill inmates to ASH or the county’s psychiatric facility in San Luis Obispo.

The San Luis Obispo County Jail is run by Sheriff Ian Parkinson and houses about 600 inmates per day. The county health department, led by Jeff Hamm, is charged with the medical and mental health care of the inmates.

Under Hamm’s leadership, the county mental health facility on Johnson Avenue has refused to admit more than a few mentally ill transfers from the jail at a time claiming the mental health facility is at or above its 16-bed capacity.

However, in 2016, the county mental health facility was never at capacity and at times housed only two or three patients, according to the facility’s daily log sheets acquired by CalCoastNews through a public records request.

On Jan. 14, deputies moved Holland out of the rubber room and back to his isolation cell. Isolation that his family believe helped feed his psychosis.

“Andrew was kept in isolation for a year and a half,” Sharon Holland said. “Strapping him in a chair for 48 hours would be torture. If he had been at Woods Humane Society, he would have been treated with more compassion.”

At 5:40 p.m. on Jan. 20, guards spotted Holland punching himself in the face. Inside his cell, guards discovered Holland had blood on his face, chest, hands and legs as well as feces smeared on his hands and legs, according to jail records.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 20, guards transferred Holland to the drunk tank and strapped him naked into a restraint chair, dubbed the “devil’s chair” by critics. In the hard plastic chair, detainee’s ankles, legs, abdomen, chest, wrists and arms are strapped down.

Restraint chairs are intended to subdue violent detainees for a short period of time. Manufacturers warn of the dangers of pulmonary embolism if a person is detained in the chair for an extended period of time.

“Detainees should not be left in the Safety Restraint Chair for more than two hours,” according to Safety Restraint Chair Inc., a manufacture of restraint chairs. “The Safety Restraint Chair should never be used as a means of punishment.”

Though medical staff at the jail attempted to have Holland transferred to the county’s psychiatric facility, on Jan 21, Dr. Daisy Illano claimed the facility was full and denied a transfer. However, according to the daily logs, on Jan 21 there were beds open at the county facility.

For two days, Holland remained strapped in the chair, covered in urine and feces, and not permitted to leave the chair even to use the bathroom.

On Jan. 22 at 4:45 p.m., after restraining Holland in the “Devil’s chair” for more than 46 hours, guards released the straps, but left Holland in the frigid drunk tank without a bed or clothing, according to jail records.

Less than an hour later, at 5:20 p.m., guards noticed Holland lying motionless on the floor. A few minutes later, guards rolled Holland onto his back and discovered he was pale and cold to the touch, records show. The guards then initiated CPR.

At 5:30 p.m., an ambulance with medics arrived at the jail. At 5:36 p.m., lifesaving efforts were stopped and medics pronounced Holland dead, according to jail records.

When Holland’s naked body was removed from the drunk tank on Jan. 22, he had scars on his left wrist, bruises on his arms and legs, a swollen nose and dried blood and feces on his body, according to jail records.


Shortly after Holland’s death, the sheriff’s department sent out a press release that drastically contradicts custody records and a preliminary autopsy report. In his release, sheriff department spokesperson Tony Cipolla paints a picture of a detainee who died mysteriously without any bruising or marks on his body.

Sheriff Ian Parkinson

In the Jan. 22 press release, Cipolla claims Holland was under the care of a physician at the time of his death. However, according to Holland’s chart, while Dr. Illano spoke with jail staff over the phone, she did not examine Holland.

“Holland had been under observation and was monitored and checked approximately every 15 minutes,” the press release says.

But, three or more hours often passed between jail staff assessments of Holland, according to county records.

“Custody staff and jail medical staff immediately provided emergency lifesaving attention, including the use of an automatic electronic defibrillator (AED), however staff was unable to revive him,” the press release says.

Even though jail staffers hooked Holland up to the AED, it was never used to shock Holland’s heart because it was determined Holland was no longer receiving electrical impulses from his brain. The defibrillator requires that the heart is receiving electrical impulses in order to be effective, sources said.

In addition, Cipolla noted that Holland’s body showed no signs of trauma.

“There were no outward signs of trauma on Holland’s body,” Cipolla wrote in the press release.

However, Holland died with scars, bruising and swelling on his body, according to Holland’s chart and a preliminary autopsy report.

Neither Cipolla nor Sheriff Ian Parkinson answered questions about why the court order to transfer Holland was not followed or why there are discrepancies between official records and the department’s press release.

“Since this is an ongoing investigation, the sheriff’s office will not be releasing any further details about this case other than the information that was previously provided,” Cipolla said.


SLO Sheriffs Dept is an absolute discgrace to the community.

Shady as hell and always killing someone in the jail.

Parkinson needs to get his shit together.


I know Carty Holland , personally , I have done business with him & Much of his family , First off I’m sad He & his wife lost their son.. Next Carty is one of the best people I have known, he is a good honest person, If Carty say’s some thing I believe him, its 100% True..

Next I would expect legal action against SLO county , and if Carty is after you , your in big trouble , the combination of Honesty & messing with ones Family .. Is not going to be a good out come for SLO county. Carty is Well connected in the community ..

I’m Very Sorry , .. for you & Sharon losing your son, Peace My Brother! You know I have great respect for you & Ron.


AGDUDE…Same here. Carty and all of the Holland’s are the REAL DEAL. My heart breaks when I see this photo. So many are tortured under the guise of “getting help” with this county.

I am so sorry for this family. This just didn’t need to happen!


givemeabreak….be ASSURED the county has messed with the WRONG family!

Jorge Estrada

Being strapped to a chair for 48 hours serves what purpose? I understand protecting one from oneself but if that had been determined to be his need then what was he doing in that jail facility?


“SLO County Jail’s inmate death rate is higher than U.S. average” –

Yea, the “Happiest Place on Earth” with the deadliest county jail in the country! Y’all must be proud! Finally an area you can compete with big boys, huh?! What the folks down in L.A. call you, just a suburb of its great city? That’s what it seems like…

My thought is that some of you actually want this kind of shit to go on, it’s the deterrent to keep those you would call “undesirables” out and maybe if advertised and exercised just the right way you could get most of those types who reside here to leave, right? Fifteen deaths in the last year and a half, that’s about one a month. Shit, what’s next? Large “showers” with ovens just down the corridor?

The one problem with all of that? Is one day this kind of shit may come knocking on your door and what then? You better just stand there and take it because that’s what you’re doing now…



This is heartbreaking. This man was from a local family and he was very much loved. Here is what I don’t understand:

A year and a half in isolation sounds so inhuman, what was the goal?

Who wouldn’t go crazy after a year and a half? Were his parents allowed to see him?

I assume the drunk tank is not private, have the people in the tank with him that night been interviewed?

How can the jail staff not be trained to deal with mental illness???


Ask Jeff Hamm, Anne Robbins, and Judy Vick about LMFT’s ! They are suppose to be Licensed Marriage Family Therapists. Under Judy Vick, Jeff Hamm and Anne Robbins they have gradually been being put in the place of PT’s (psych techs) . PT’s have an enormous amount of experience with the mentally ill. Atascadero State Hospital hires mainly PT’s for a reason. PT’s are experienced and deal daily one on one with patients. LMFT’s are useless beings hiding behind a license for the most part with the county with ZERO experience on the job. And now you have it! A supervisor at the jail who is an LMFT name is Idee Shapiro. I dare you to try and find ONE intellectual decision on her part since she has been with the county! Am hoping the Hollands look up her history and job performance. Better yet I hope they subpoena people! As they say the TRUTH will set you free! If employees are issued a subpoena the county can not try and intimidate them with their “investigations ! “Employees will be FORCED to tell the truth!


As if you even knew a minuscule amount of the support my nephew had from his parents. Maybe have some insight before you speak on such a sensitive topic.


Sorry Oregon uncle , maybe we are ill informed.. but in any case ,the information provided here is a crime against Humanity.. the system did that not his parents , I’m sure at some point families expect people to stand on their own two feet , Like you boys/Men did..

I think even the old timers of the family that are long since gone .. would not be happy about this..

The point is we that know you folks respect you , and we are truly sorry. the rest is BS.. We of the community are just Sorry..

JB Bronson

…yaw, but Ian sure looks good strutin down the runway doesn’t he?


I try not to rush to judgment when it comes to issues regarding law enforcement however if this news article is even remotely correct then this boys parents are absolutely correct in saying their son, Andrew Holland, was “tortured and killed” by the San Luis Obispo Sheriffs Department.

I searched the Cal Coast News website and found an article stating that the current Sheriff Ian Parkinson makes over $400,000 annually (Salary/pension) and after a cursory search nationally I could not find a Sheriff with a higher annual income. How does a tragedy like this happen at all and even worse – within a few hundred feet of the highest paid Sheriff in Americas desk?


I wonder if these deaths and the associated legal actions/media coverage are the reason that the Sheriff’s jail commander, Captain George Clarkson, abruptly resigned about two weeks ago. Friends of mine at the department said he walked into the sheriff’s office and said he was quitting because he had had enough with the undersheriff. Something is going on out on Kansas Avenue and I don’t think it is one happy ship led by Sheriff Parkinson. There seems to be problems that are being kept quiet. My friends say they are either getting ready to retire or jump ship to another county agency.