By KAREN VELIE
He called 911 wanting help. Instead, in a claim filed against the county, Jeremiah Mobley says he was hog tied, tormented, stripped naked, berated and belittled by staffers at the San Luis Obispo County Jail. The jail has one of the highest per-capita death rates in the United States.
Days before the county announced a $5 million payment to the family of Andrew Holland who died after being strapped naked in a restraint chair for more than 46 hours, Mobley filed a claim against the county for assault, battery and torture.
His experience started on Jan. 21. Mobley learned that his cousin was in critical condition at a hospital in San Luis Obispo. Along with several relatives, Mobley traveled from Lodi to the Travel Lodge on Monterey Street.
Feeling out of sorts, on the morning of Jan 22, Mobley called 9-1-1 from the hotel several times asking for help with mental health issues. San Luis Obispo Police officers transported Mobley to the county psychiatric facility, but county staffers said there was no room and the officers then drove Mobley to the county jail.
At the jail, correctional staffers did not take his fingerprints or booking photo, instead they took Mobley, a man with no criminal history, directly to a cell in the drunk tank.
“I was never told what I had done wrong,” Mobley said. “They never read me my rights, they didn’t book me into jail.”
At 8:42 a.m., guards locked Mobley in holding cell three where for a little more than an hour he remained prone on the concrete floor in the fetal position, according to the claim filed by Mobey’s attorney Paula Canny.
Even though Mobley had been docile, at 9:48 a.m. guards entered Mobley’s cell and placed his hands in cuffs.
The guards then dragged Mobley out of the cell, placed his legs in a wrap restraint, put a helmet on his head and hooked his handcuffs to the leg restraints essentially hog-tying him in the front, and then placed him back in the cell, the claim reads.
“A guard said, ‘If you fall down, you’ll stay there,’ ” Mobley said.
For roughly two hours, Mobley remained restrained on the floor of the frigid drunk-tank in a cell next to Andrew Holland, the man who had also suffered a mental health breakdown.
Later that day, deputies stripped Mobley and moved him, naked into a small concrete cell, with no bedding and a hole in the floor for his waste, the claim reads.
Mobley lay down on the concrete floor and began rubbing his eyes. Shortly after 5 p.m. on Jan. 22, guards noticed Mobley eyes were red and inflamed and asked a nurse to exam him.
However, shortly after the nurse began examining Mobley she was called to the other side of the jail complex for a man-down call. It was for Andrew Holland. After more than 46 hours strapped in a restraint chair, guards had released Holland. A blood clot had moved from his leg to his lung. Holland died in the jail shortly after.
A jail staffer then decided to take Mobley to the hospital to have his eyes examined. As they walked through the intake area of the jail, Mobley said he noticed the words, “Holland – died in cell,” on a dry board in the intake area.
At the hospital, Mobley said he was scared and anxious and refused care.
The guards then took Mobley back to intake where they took his booking photo and fingerprints. Later that night, county staff transported Mobley to the county mental health facility where he stayed for two days, and at no time did he receive medical attention for his eyes, according to the claim.
A county staffer then drove Mobley to the San Luis Obispo train station so that he could board a bus headed out of the county.
After several minutes on the bus, Mobley stood up and refused to sit back down. The bus driver then asked Mobley to leave the bus, said Manuel Reyes, a ticket salesman at the train station. After spending more than an hour in the train station restroom, Reyes called law enforcement officers who drove Mobley back to SLO County’s mental health facility where he spent about a week.
Mobley was never charged with a crime. Four months after he called 9-1-1 seeking help, the scars on his wrists from the restraints are still visible and his vision has not returned to normal, he says. While in county custody, he was never treated for his eye injury, the claim reads.
Mobley’s claim alleges that county staffers “violated his state and federal civil rights to be free from excessive and unreasonable force and restraint, the right to be free from conscience-shocking force, the right to be free from deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs while in custody, the right to be free from wrongful interference with familial relationships and claimants rights to society, support and companionship.”