Body-cam videos released in Alameda County inmate's death
DUBLIN, Calif. (KTVU) - The Alameda County sheriff's office on Wednesday released body-cam videos showing how the use of a full-body restraint by deputies led to the death of an inmate at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Dujuan Armstrong, 23, died of asphyxiation in June 2018 after deputies strapped him into a device known as "the WRAP." Armstrong was serving weekends behind bars for burglary.
His family was initially told that he had died of a drug overdose.
"This is just terrible," his mother, Barbara Doss, told KTVU. "My body is numb."
The morning after he reported to jail, Armstrong began acting strangely. He told deputies he was under the influence of drugs, including cocaine.
"I'm high on drugs," Armstrong told a deputy.
His behavior deteriorated as the day progressed.
Later in the evening, deputies decided to take him to a jail facility where he could be monitored by medical staff.
Santa Rita has a higher jail death rate than Los Angeles
"Don't do this! Don't do this," a deputy repeatedly told Armstrong as he resisted their commands.
Armstrong began physically struggling with deputies and, at one point, tried to run down a hallway, according to the video.
After he continues to ignore their commands, a deputy tells him, "I'm gonna dump you on the floor. You've been cool with me, but you're not being cool."
He was then taken to the ground by a group of deputies.
"Stop resisting!" a deputy repeatedly yells as Armstrong screams. "Stop fighting!" they tell him.
Deputies used "the WRAP," a full-body device with straps, to restrain him. Video shows his body contorted in straps and a hood as he was taken away on a gurney.
Minutes later, they noticed that Armstrong wasn't moving.
"Nurse! Can you get vitals please?" a deputy asks a medical staffer.
The nurse got a blood pressure reading but later couldn't find a pulse.
Armstrong died that evening at a hospital.
An autopsy determined that Armstrong died of "mechanical asphyxia," meaning he suffocated because his hands were handcuffed behind his back. "The Wrap" had compressed his large stomach and pulled his neck down. Deputies had also put a "spit mask" on him, which covered his nose and mouth and blocked their ability to monitor his breathing.
The forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy said each of those factors increased Armstrong's risk for asphyxia."
But the Alameda County District Attorney said no deputies would face criminal charges, because none of them acted recklessly.
Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly told KTVU it was "unfortunate and tragic" that Armstrong died, but said his death was an accident and that there was no malice or intent to harm him.
But he did say "the WRAP" is no longer used in jail, although it's still allowed for use out in the field. Instead, deputies now use a "chair restraint," Kelly said, adding all inmates who are restrained are constantly monitored.
A closer look at the 40 inmates who have died at Santa Rita
John Burris, an attorney for Armstrong's family believes he was "inappropriately handled" by the deputies and that he is considering further legal action. His colleague, Adante Pointer, was more blunt. "It's torture," he said.
WATCH: Deputies put Dujan Armstrong in a WRAP
Doss said she can't believe that no one suffered any consequences for her son's death.
"I'm going after them," she said.
A review of jail autopsies since shows that Armstrong was one of at least 40 inmates to die at Santa Rita since Jan. 1, 2014. He was one of three people to have died after being put into restraints during that time period.
KTVU's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.