Santa Rita Jail. Photo by Scott Morris.

Two inmates in Santa Rita Jail die in three days

Two inmates died in separate incidents at Santa Rita Jail last week, including a “weekender” who was sentenced to only be incarcerated on the weekends, according to Sgt. Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail.

The cause of their deaths has not yet been determined, according to Kelly, but it’s highly unusual for two inmates to die in the same week. Every year there’s usually a few deaths in the jail, but usually not more than four or five. “Two within a couple of days is very unique,” Kelly said. “But they’re not connected in any way.”

The first death happened on June 24, shortly before 7:30 p.m., Kelly said. The 23-year-old man was only supposed to be incarcerated for the weekend and had arrived the night before.

According to Kelly, on Saturday evening, he started acting “bizarre” and deputies called medical staff to help him. He was taken to ValleyCare Medical Center in Pleasanton, where he died.

Kelly said he did not know if deputies used force or restrained the man before he was taken to the hospital. He said it’s possible the man had taken drugs, but the results of his autopsy and toxicology tests are still pending.

The second death happened three days later, just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday. According to Kelly, the 45-year-old man was in a cell by himself and had come out for breakfast. He went back into his cell and deputies doing a check of inmates found him on the floor.
Neither of the inmates’ names have been released.

The two deaths bring the total number of deaths of inmates in Santa Rita so far this year to three, according to Kelly. The last death happened on April 9, when a 37-year-old man, identified as Logan Masterson, apparently killed himself in his cell.

Prior to that, the last time an inmate died at Santa Rita was on Nov. 28, 2017, when an inmate was found unresponsive in his cell at about 3 a.m. in another apparent suicide, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, along with the sheriff’s office, is investigating last week’s two in-custody deaths.
“We treat every death in the jail pretty much like a homicide, even though it’s not,” Kelly said. “We go full speed on everything and don’t spare any resource or expense.”