New allegations of abuse and neglect at the SLO County Jail

Russell and Margo Benson-Hammer

The family of a man who stabbed his wife during a mental health crisis has filed claims against the City of Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo County for the “horrible and inhumane treatment and the death of Russell Hammer.”

On Nov. 6, Russell Hammer’s wife Margo Benson-Hammer told Morro Bay police officers her husband suffered from physical and mental health issues and asked them not to arrest him. Officers then took Russell Hammer to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center where it was determined he was suffering from dementia and psychosis before they booked him into the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

In the claim, attorney Paula Canny wrote that the Morro Bay Police Department should have known that Russel Hammer, 62, was having a mental health crisis and that the jail was not an appropriate place to hold him.

At the jail, deputies placed Hammer in an isolation cell without providing his medications, the claim says.

Within 24 hours, Hammer decompensated to eating his own feces. Even though one of the guards had identified Hammer in a form as gravely disabled, the guards did nothing to help him, the claim says.

“Respondents continued to neglect, improperly house and ignore Russell Hammer’s medical needs,” the claim says.

On Nov. 27, 2017, Hammer died of a deep vein thrombosis after being brought to the jail’s medical facility.

“Respondents have a history and pattern and practice of putting mentally ill people in ‘safety’ cells, isolating and torturing them rather than providing them treatment,” the claim says.

According to the claim, the SLO County Sheriff’s Department was aware of the conditions and the problems at the jail because there had been 12 inmate deaths since Sheriff Ian Parkinson took office in 2011.

In 2017, the county paid a $5 million settlement to the family of one of the deceased men.

Following a CalCoastNews exclusive report on the alleged torture of Andrew Holland, an inmate who died after being strapped naked in a restraint chair for more than 46 hours, the FBI mounted an investigation into the 12 deaths, which is ongoing today.

Hammer’s widow seeks unspecified damages and an injunction ordering the county to provide all inmates adequate health and mental health care.

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2 Comments about “New allegations of abuse and neglect at the SLO County Jail”

  1. Stanley J says:

    Saw the KSBY News response to this matter, County Counsel Rita Neal says we will fight and defend this claim yayayayay

    Well Rita Neal of course is spending our tax money, she is the same person who has had a long History of covering up, I hope this case gets filed and a Court Trial happens, so the citizens of SLO will get a good look at what really goes on behind closed doors.

    This will be yet another case to be settled like Mr. Holland’s Murder while in custody. I so look-forward to this years local elections, throw out the incumbents and bring in new, honest, ethical people.

    WE need a New elected Judge no more Governor appointees , we need a new sheriff, new DA new board members and a whole lot more. Vote the liars out and bring in fresh new people who have ethics, integrity and above all obey the rule of law not to cover it up.

    As for this lying, cheap, fabricator Tracy Nix needs to be removed immediately, Mr. DA Dow what is it you do not understand she lied, gave false testimony and now you and her are trying to cover it up. ?? do you two have more than in common than working in the same building XOXO perhaps your too close to her ?

    I’m glad this all is exposed now, since the elections are coming soon, I vote all new people in office and then we can trust our system. You have failed the people of the State, Cities of SLO and the County.

    (3) 5 Total Votes – 4 up – 1 down
  2. Ken says:

    When are these Murders while in our jail going to end ?

    This is way out of reality, where and when is our Grand Jury and the Attorney General going to get on board and see something is really wrong with the Sheriff’s Office and this District Attorney Dow who seems to try and hide the truth.

    Dow needs to Go so does his X Buddy Parkinson, We watched as Dow’s people covered up the Parkinson Sign with his own on LOVR and Foothill Blvd. I guess there love triangle is over, DA covers up in his own office on the Tracy Nix Scandal of a DA employee committing Perjury again and again.

    Past time to arrest the DA, Nix and all the others crooked staffers

    (7) 21 Total Votes – 14 up – 7 down

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