Alameda County sheriff fires lieutenant who authorized chaining Fremont man to jail door

The Alameda County sheriff has fired a lieutenant who authorized chaining a 20-year-old Fremont man to an isolation cell door in a move that was a violation of jail policy and ended with the young man hanging himself to death with the chains he was provided, KTVU has learned.

The sheriff's office formally terminated employment for Lt. Craig Cedergren on Sunday, according to Lt. Dan Brodie, who provided the information via email on Tuesday. 

Though the full record is not yet publicly available, Brodie said that Internal Affairs investigators found that Cedergren was negligent in his duties as an intake transfer supervisor and he also was not wearing his body camera, which he should have been, when he decided to give the OK to chain Christian Madrigal to a cell door with handcuffs and leg irons on June 10, 2019.

There were about 12 other deputies and employees there that day but Cedergren, according to the sheriff's office, is the only one who was punished for his conduct.

Cedergren's attorney, Mike Rains, did not immediately respond for comment. It's unclear if Cedergren gets to keep all his retirement and pension benefits; Brodie said he is not privy to those particulars. 

Body cam footage in Santa Rita jail undercuts deputies' claims about 20-year-old inmate's death

WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO: Body cam shows 20-year-old chained to cell door

The sheriff's office had said that Madrigal was actively resisting them, which is why they needed to restrain him in that manner.

However, body camera video obtained by KTVU this month undercuts the sheriff's narrative.

Madrigal might have been tensing his body at points, but the video shows he was mostly subdued during the encounter with deputies.

He had been brought to jail after experiencing some type of psychiatric break after trying mushrooms with his brother. His parents had called police for help; hopefully to take him to a hospital, not to jail. 

Deputies left Madrigal there for about three hours, and when they returned, found he was on the floor, unresponsive. He was declared dead at the hospital five days later.

Cedergren's body camera is turned on only after he found Madrigal slumped by the door and he can be heard yelling "F---! F---!" before paramedics and nurses rush in. 

Brodie said that the sheriff had wanted to fire Cedergren immediately after the IA case was concluded, but had to wait for the proper process, which is called a Skelly hearing, to play out. The Skelly hearing officer upheld the termination request, Brodie said. 

Madrigal's parents, Jose Jaime and Gabriela Covarrubias, have long sought for Cedergren, as well as the other deputies there that day, to be charged and fired.

"At least we know this guy won't hurt someone else," Jaime said. "This is the first thing in a year that had made us smile." 

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley this month declined to file any criminal charges, saying it was not her job to prosecute cases of policy violations. And she said she did not find Cedergren's actions to be criminally negligent. 

Adante Pointer, the family's attorney, said while he felt that some justice was served by Cedergren's firing, it seems to be a "small slap on the wrist comparing the loss of a life to the loss of the tail-end of a career. Cedergren should be sitting in a criminal courtroom." 

Lt. Craig Cedergren oversees chaining Christian Madrigal to the R-1 door at Santa Rita. June 10, 2019

Christian Madrigal's mother and stepfather stand in front of Santa Rita Jail. June 13, 2020

Jose Jaime holds a picture of his stepson, Christian Madrigal. November 2019

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@foxtv.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez