SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi who died suddenly Friday from an apparent heart attack. Adachi started in 1987 as deputy public defender and went on to become a five-time elected public defender for the city.
A spokeswoman for the public defender's office on Saturday said the 59-year-old Adachi was having dinner with a friend in North Beach Friday night when he began to have trouble breathing. Adachi was brought to an apartment near Coit Tower, and then taken to a local hospital, where he died shortly before 7 p.m.
According to the police report obtaind by KTVU, a woman identified as "Caterina" was having dinner with Adachi when he began complaining of stomach pains so they took an Uber back to the apartment at 46 Telegraph Place. Caterina said that Adachi told her to go to the store to get an unspecified medication, but he then became unresponsive so she called for paramedics on Adachi's phone.
The 911 call was placed at 5:41 p.m. according to the police report. Caterina told the dispatcher that a man drank two glasses of wine, had a stomach ache, took a pill and became unresponsive.
When paramedics arrived they found Caterina attempting to perform CPR. Paramedics took the man to California Pacific Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 6:54 p.m. and identified as Adachi.
Police were notified and went to the home on Telegraph Place and made contact with the tenant who gave officers access to the residence where they found Adachi’s clothes and other evidence. The tenant told police that she had been friends with Adachi for about 10 years and said he asked if he could use the apartment for two days. Adachi told her he would be staying there with Caterina. The tenant said they could stay there and gave him the keys.
"This is a death investigation with cause to be determined," San Francisco Police said in a statement Saturday night. "There are no signs of foul play."
The police report includes photos that show empty liquor bottles, condom wrappers and a syringe inside the apartment, but it's unclear if the syringe was left behind by paramedics.
Medical Examiner's Investigator Zack Smith said an autopsy could be done Sunday or Monday. He wouldn't comment further on the investigation, or the circumstances of Adachi's death.
Adachi, who started in 1987 as deputy public defender in San Francisco, was first elected public defender in March 2002 and won re-election four times after that. He was widely hailed as a champion of defendants who needed help the most.
Adachi "was committed not only to the fight for justice in the courtroom, but he was also a relentless advocate for criminal justice reform," San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement Saturday.
Adachi is survived by his wife Mutsuko and daughter Lauren.