On January 12 at approximately 2 a.m., Jonathan Paul Thomas, 45, died in custody at the Santa Barbara County Main Jail. The family of Mr. Thomas has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Santa Barbara County and the Sheriff’s Office.
Mr. Thomas died less than an hour after he was booked at the Main Jail. The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Thomas hung himself while in custody and also that “prior to being taken into custody, he had called 911 to say he was coming down from methamphetamines and he was going to kill himself,” reported KEYT.
“Rather than take him to a hospital, defendants took him to jail, where they stuffed him in a one-person cell and left him to hang himself on a sheet,” according to the lawsuit.
Raquel Zick, spokesperson for Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, said that the Sheriff’s Office cannot comment on pending litigation.
The Sheriff’s Office told KEYT that Mr. Thomas was inside the safety cell, where deputies removed his clothing and placed him face down on the floor.Ms. Zick said that deputies left after removing Thomas’ handcuffs and then noticed that he was not moving just minutes later.
The Sheriff’s Office says custody officers began lifesaving measures and requested emergency medical response, but Mr. Thomas was declared dead in his cell.