Parents grieve loss of son who died in chains at Santa Rita; sheriff's office moves to fire lieutenant

Heartbroken Fremont parents said they called 911 last summer because their 20-year-old son was suffering from a mental crisis, but they never thought he would end up dead hours later.

Christian Madrigal died after being held in custody at Santa Rita last June. 

His family said his death was senseless and preventable.

Newly released bodycam videos show what happened while Madrigal was in custody.

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

His parents, Jose Jaime and Gabriala Covarruvias, have filed a federal civil lawsuit against the Alameda County Sheriff's Department for wrongful death.

They said they're broken by what happened to their son and want to prevent this from happening to someone else.

"My son cannot go away like nothing happened," Jaime said. 

The family wants Alameda County Sheriff's deputies and the lieutenant in charge of Christian to be held accountable.

Jaime said he called 911 to get his son help after he started acting erratically and appeared to be suffering a mental breakdown after taking mushrooms a year ago June.

Body cam video released by the sheriff's department last week shows Christian's final hours. 

His head was covered with what is called a spit mask.

Lt. Craig Cedergren decided to chain him to the cell door with his hands tied behind back.

The family said he was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes. 

For an hour, those checks were not done and the sheriff's department said  Madrigal managed to move his hands in front and used the chain to kill himself.

"The events depicted in that video are not sanctioned and not policy. We do not in any way, shape or form condone those types of restraints," said Sgt. Ray Kelly, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.

When asked why the lieutenant would order Christian chained to the door if this type of restraint is not taught to deputies, Sgt. Kelly replied: "This  decision was made by that individual. That individual operated outside of policy." 

In addition, the family said the deputies have claimed that Madrigal was aggressive, but the videos  show him in a passive state.

  "I'm shocked because nobody did nothing to help him.  I wish one would have done that. It would take a little pain out of my heart," said Jaime.

Madrigal's mother said she has not been able to watch the videos and she doesn't understand how this could happen to her son. 

"I miss him all the time. Why?" she asked. 

"I want those deputies who did nothing to also be responsible for the death of my son.  They should go to jail," said Jaime. 

The sheriff's department said it is seeking to have the lieutenant fired.

The parents said they're speaking out in hopes of changing the system.

They have donated Christian's organs to five people, because this is helping them cope with the loss of their son.


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