SLO Tribune releases jail torture video, fails to credit earlier reporting

March 17, 2018

Carty (Andrew’s father) and Andrew Holland

A stunning video documenting how Andrew Holland was strapped in a restraint chair at the San Luis Obispo County Jail for more than 46 hours, and how he died while sheriff deputies laugh in the background, was released Friday by the Tribune.

The video supports the investigative reporting of CalCoastNews, that showed Holland was kept in solitary confinement in a cell littered with food and Styrofoam boxes. In SLO County Jail’s isolation cells, deputies push Styrofoam food containers through a slot on the door, but fail to retrieve them leaving the food to mold and creating a stench.

While held naked in a filthy cell, Holland began punching himself in the face. His jailers responded by strapping him naked in a restraint chair  where he was left for more than 46 hours. During this time he was offered little food or water and never permitted to use a bathroom.

In the video, guards watch as Holland struggles, and after he loses consciousness, they enter the cell. In the video, guards are seen laughing while Holland is dying.

In a press release issued shortly after Holland’s death, sheriff department spokesperson Tony Cipolla painted a picture of a detainee who died mysteriously, without any bruising or marks on his body and while under continual medical care. Cipolla’s release drastically contradicted custody records, a preliminary autopsy report and multiple sources who spoke with CalCoastNews.

While CalCoastNews was publishing articles about Holland’s death in the restraint chair and the discrepancies in the press release, Tribune reporter Matt Fountain was parroting false claims from the press release and from Sheriff Ian Parkinson.

While Fountain’s reporting now supports earlier CalCoastNews articles, the Tribune has again taken the work of CalCoastNews reporters and claimed it as their own. For several years, CCN reporters cultivated sources, sent public records requests, and performed interviews while investigating a string of deaths in the county jail. In most cases, reporters credit journalists for their investigative reporting.

For more than eight years, the Tribune has trailed CalCoastNews. After CalCoastNews conducts in-depth investigations and reports stories, Tribune reporters regularly lodge requests for the same document, call sources named by CalCoastNews and then publish similar articles. The Tribune claims the work as their original investigative reporting, and then often enters the articles in journalism awards competitions.

In Feb. 2009, CalCoastNews published an article about Dancing Star, a sanctuary that had become a killing field for protected animals. The Tribune later produced a similar article using the same sources and information.

The Tribune then entered a California Newspaper Publishers Association press competition for original investigative reporting, which the paper won.

After CalCoastNews began writing about hard money lending fraud by now-convicted and imprisoned developer Kelly Gearhart, the Tribune condemned CalCoastNews reporters noting they could be sued. Later, after multiple criminal investigation were disclosed, the Tribune began reporting on the same fraud. And again, the Tribune entered its original investigative reporting in journalism competitions.

In 2012, a Tribune columnist called CalCoastNews swamp gas for reporting on allegations that then- Paso Robles Chief of Police Lisa Solomon-Chitty had sexually assaulted her officers and violated laws banning ticket quotas. The Tribune followed on CalCoastNews’ stories and again entered its work as original investigative reporting, and again won an award.

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Funny. Funny how slocounty has been lying for years but it wasn’t until video was released that people take notice.ive seen it with my own eyes deputies lying on the stand, but because the judge is related to the deputy, it’s brushed off. Good old boy network of lying, manipulating and deceitful people in a position of power. Shocker

No amount of funding and training will fix the two key components of this murder/torture:

1. Training does not fix cruel indifference to human life. This is what the jail staff exhibited and no taxpayor funded weekend workshops at swank hotels with booze and extramarital sex will fix it.

2. There’s some confusion as to what is meant by “no room at mental health” and “room at mental health,” but even if there was no room is Parkinson trying to say that the only extra space in the jail was in the restraint chair?

3. Parkinson, Cipolla and all the rest LIED. THEY LIED TO THE PUBLIC. The jail staff lied. No one has been held accountable.

All criminals in this county should make a strong defense that our local cops cannot be trusted to provide accurate testimony. Afterall, those at the jail lied, those at mental health lied, Parkinson lied, Cipolla lied, Dan Dow lied… can any court of law take testimony from the local sheriff? They are proven liars.

They are also criminals. If they lie about this, what else do they lie about?

Unfortunately this fine young man became mentally ill as is the case for a number of males when they reach adulthood, I know others. This is a heartbreak for their friends and especially parents. There was a place in Atascadero that provided housing and assured that they took their meds. Sadly most do not like their meds because of the regulated numbness in their behavior. Some parents of these now adults stay on top of their guidance and help reassure that they are protected. By law they are not required to shadow their now adult children and for many these mentally ill adults, nobody is contacted until their death. Understandably their parents only talk about how great their child was before they took ill. This happens over and over again. I do not know Andrew’s parents or the extent of their relationship with their adult child, I only hear their good memories as they should dwell on. The behavior of the staff towards Andrew is nothing I’d accept but working in that environment must change people or how else would they cope in that task of managing a social septic tank? There is absolutely no reason to make this a political campaign as that would be a perverse social response. The fix would be the vetting of who belongs in jail vs who belongs in a medical confinement. Hopefully Andrew will be the last casualty (not likely) and we can support our Sheriffs Department with better funding and training for this unmet need, partially a result of the County General Hospital closure, which we are responsible for.

Protests and all that go with them may be nice and make one ‘feel’ good; but until we, as the voters in this county, accept the responsibility for who we decide to vote into office – then nothing will really change.

Regarding this total and overwhelming disregard for a human life and the pointing of fingers at others to ‘save’ one’s own skin can not be acceptable for anyone that calls themselves a person.

You can call it whatever you like; slap as much lipstick on the pig as you want ( it will still be a pig) – the tape that was released proves that Ian Parkinson lied; Tony Cipola lied; Dan Dow lied; and anyone else that put out the same story lied.

Isn’t well past the time to hold our elected officials to the standards that they swore to when they took the office?? Or is this just one more example of what we, as a nation, as a state, as a county; even as human beings have become accustomed to and accept as the ‘new’ normal. May God help us all!!!

The swamp has just risen in SLO and it may be time to make some changes.