FREMONT, Calif. (KTVU) - Parents of a 20-year-old East Bay man are preparing to sue the City of Fremont and the Alameda County Sheriff's office after they say he was beaten, choked, restrained and eventually left unsupervised in a jail cell where he committed suicide.
"Our heart is broken... we don't consider ourselves a family anymore because we miss our son," said Jose Jaime, the victim's father.
Christian Madrigal's family say they called 911 on June 10 because he was having a mental health crisis. Madrigal was home after a recent stay in the Santa Clara Valley psychiatric unit, and they believed he needed to return.
Jamie said after his son's release, he was told that should there be another episode that he should call police and tell them that Madrigal suffers from mental illness so that he can be readmitted to the hospital.
"Those were the recommendations from the nurse at the clinic that if he continued with this behavior, the first thing we should do is call 911," he said.
When police arrived though, Madrigal's parents say, the Fremont officers arrested him for being under the influence of drugs and took him to the city's jail.
The family's claim against the city, filed by civil rights attorney John Burris, accuses officers of beating and choking the young man before putting him in a restraint.
Madrigal was then transported to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin where he was again detained.
"Given this young man's condition he should have been taken into medical care," said family attorney John Burris Monday.
A Lieutenant with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department ordered deputies to chain Madrigal to a cell door, which is in violation of the jail's internal policies, according to Burris. Alameda County Sheriff's Department Spokesman Sergeant Ray Kelly did not offer further details about Madrigal's treatment only saying the jail has "many mental health policies and also mental health staff on site. There are many protocols in place to deal with people in custody who are in a mental health crisis situation."
Madrigal was left unattended for about 10 minutes and deputies found him attempted to hang himself with the chain that restrained him to the door, according to the legal claim.
He was taken to a hospital and treated for internal injuries, including a lacerated spleen and liver. He died a few days later.
Burris said the family is demanding that the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and the Fremont Police release videos of contacts they had with Madrigal during the incident.
Sergeant Kelly says the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office have both launched independent investigations into Madrigal's death. A Lieutenant is also on administrative leave while the incident is investigated, according to Kelly.
In a statement to KTVU on Monday evening, the City of Fremont said:
"The suit wrongfully claims excessive force was used against Madrigal while in the custody of the Fremont Police Department for being under the influence of drugs.
All interactions involving Madrigal were captured and recorded on various camera systems. Our Department will be contacting John Burris to discuss his request to view and release the video.
This is a tragic case and our hearts go out to Christian's family and loved ones. Due to the lawsuit being filed, we unfortunately cannot comment further on the details of this case."