Tribune releases jail torture video, fails to credit earlier reporting

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. 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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5 Comments about “Tribune releases jail torture video, fails to credit earlier reporting”

  1. slosum says:

    Cut the TT some slack. They can only put so much “news” on the measly 2 pages they’ve been reduced to. Soon…. they will disappear all together.

  2. obispan says:

    It’s not just that Tribune (and New Times) lags on stories, they actively suppress them as long as possible. If it weren’t for CCN they would NEVER be reported upon, hence the urgency in eliminating CCN. Karen Viele may not appear on KVEC because their advertisers, often in concert with government officials, prohibit it.

  3. perk o late says:

    Sure do miss Velie on KVEC.
    Not allowing her to appear there is an attempt to marginalize CCN & CCT, just as the Trib does when they poach her stories.

  4. SLOBodan says:

    Surprised? Not for one minute. The Fibune has lost readership in droves with their biased reporting and righteous attitude. Thank you Cal Coast News and Cal Coast Times for having the drive to investigate and report. I know you take large risks, but you are appreciated for braving those risks to report the truth.

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