Sheriff Parkinson finds no wrongdoing in death of inmate
April 13, 2017
By KAREN VELIE
There are multiple reports, logs and press releases documenting Andrew Holland’s time in county custody and his death, many of which include conflicting information. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Department staffers appear to be manipulating the truth in order to support the sheriff’s claim that Holland died from natural causes.
On Jan. 20, deputies strapped Holland naked in a restraint chair in the frigid drunk tank 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, a blood clot traveled to his right lung causing a pulmonary embolism and his death, according to a preliminary autopsy report from Dr. Duc Van Duong, a forensic pathologist who performed a second autopsy on Holland.
In his pathological diagnosis, Van Duong noted a pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis in Holland’s legs, scarring and obesity.
A pathologist working for the San Luis Obispo County Coroner also performed an autopsy on Holland. Dr. Gary Walter concluded that Holland died from a 5-cenimeter-long blood clot that formed while Holland was strapped in a restraint chair for more than 46 hours and then moved to his lung.
The county coroner then ruled Holland’s death as natural.
In March 2016, Walter was involved in a hit-and-run on his way to perform an autopsy. While not cited for the hit and run, officers did arrest Walter for driving with a .19 blood alcohol level.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson oversees the jail, the coroner’s office and the sheriff’s department. While Parkinson has agreed that being strapped in a restraint chair for two days could have contributed to Holland’s death, he contends that a fatality from a pulmonary embolism is a natural cause of death.
Nevertheless, restraint chairs have long been linked to pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal blood clot that can be caused by physical trauma followed by immobility, and the same circumstances that occurred prior to Holland’s death.
In the coroner’s report, Senor Deputy Coroner Jason Caron includes information about the Pro-Straint chair model 1310 and its features that help improve circulation and prevent blood clots which he pulled from the chair manufacture’s website.
“The 7-point harness system provides maximum security while the soft wrist and ankle restraints and an ergonomic “pocket” for each leg provide greater control without sacrificing overall circulation,” Caron includes in his report.
However, deputies strapped Holland in an older Pro-Straint model, the 1200, that did not include the “soft wrist and ankle restraints and an ergonomic ‘pocket’ for each leg,” according to a 2005 receipt for the chair, the manufacturer and photos of the chair.
Several months before his death, Holland’s parents pleaded with jail medical staff to allow their schizophrenic 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.
On Jan. 10, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Duffy ordered the county to medicate Holland for his mental illness.
While Holland was strapped in the chair, county health officials refused to provide him with medications that effectively treat his illness, sources said. At the time of his death, there were no medications for schizophrenia in his body, according to the toxicology report.
Shortly after Holland’s death, the sheriff’s department sent out a press release that drastically contradicts custody records and both autopsy reports.
For example, 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 blood, scars, abrasions, bruising and swelling on his body, according to Holland’s chart and the autopsy reports.
In the six years since Ian Parkinson was sworn in as sheriff, 11 people have died while in San Luis Obispo County Jail custody, twice the number who died in the prior six years, according to the California Department of Justice. Earlier today, a 60-year-old man died in the SLO County Jail, of what staffers are again calling natural causes.