Santa Maria man found dead at Santa Barbara County Jail

January 13, 2022

Santa Barbara County Jail

By KAREN VELIE

A 45-year-old man from Santa Maria died in the Santa Barbara County Main Jail early Wednesday morning, hours after being taken into custody for domestic violence and false imprisonment, according to the sheriff’s department.

A Santa Maria police officer booked Jonathan Paul Thomas in the Main Jail at 1:32 a.m. on Jan. 12. Because Thomas was talking about suicide, he was deemed a danger to himself and escorted to a single-occupant safety cell.

Once inside the safety cell, custody deputies removed Thomas’ clothing, placed him face down on the floor of the cell, removed his handcuffs and left the cell.

A few minutes later, deputies noticed that Thomas was not moving. Custody deputies then began lifesaving measures, including CPR, and requested an emergency medical response.

Emergency personnel failed to resuscitate Thomas, who was pronounced dead at approximately 2:03 a.m. The cause of death is unknown at this time. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.


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Last Individual

Hmmm… Something doesn’t sound right here. There has got to be more to this story.


For example, how many “custody deputies” did it take to kneel on his back to get his cloths off? He obviously was NOT handcuffed when his clothes were removed because that is an impossibility (without destroying the clothing), so they must have held him down. I hope there were no knees on necks during this process. How did they determine he was a “danger to himself”? What portion of their exhaustive, weeks long training period was devoted to psychological evaluation? What was the floor material? What was the room temperature? Leaving him on a cold concrete floor for an extended amount of time might be or contribute to cause of death. At least he wasn’t strapped naked into a restraint chair for two days. Right?


This all sounds like pretty extreme treatment (read torture) for someone they were ostensibly trying to protect. I think it is unlikely that he died spontaneously without some external cause.


Adam Trask

Last paragraph has an error: who is Rodriguez?