Sheriff agrees to 'quality observation checks' after Oakland man left for dead at Santa Rita Jail

The Alameda County Sheriff has agreed to provide annual training and stress "quality observation checks" at Santa Rita Jail as part of a settlement agreement stemming from the case of an Oakland man left languishing for three or four days in his cell before he was actually discovered dead. 

The county has already agreed to pay the two children of Maurice Monk $7 million.

But what's even more important to his daughter, Nia'More Monk, is the non-monetary part of the agreement, made public this week. 

"All these rules happening now are because of my dad," Nia'More Monk told KTVU on Wednesday. "What happened to my dad sucks. But I hope it won't happen to another family." 

Her father was found dead in his cell on Nov. 15, 2021.

But body camera video, obtained nearly two years later, shows that he had been languishing, barely moving for several days in his bed with no one physically entering his room to check on him and find out why he wasn't eating or taking his medicine.

When deputies finally did enter his room, there were stacks of uneaten trays of food and scattered pills all over the floor, as were his bodily fluids pooling at his feet. He had been there so long, the imprint of his jail shirt had stained his chest. 

When Maurice Monk of Oakland was found dead in his Santa Rita Jail cell, there were uneaten food trays and pills in his cell. 

Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez did not respond for comment through her public affairs office. 

But the settlement agreement lays out that deputies must "assess for emergent issues" related to the physical and mental health of those incarcerated at Santa Rita Jail, including "deterioration in quality of life," looking for signs of room cleanliness and refusal of food or medicine. 

One of Monk's attorneys, Ty Clarke, explained that deputies now have to conduct "quality checks," which means, for instance, that if an incarcerated person fails to eat or take medication, a deputy has to go up to the person to find out why and also tell a supervisor. 

In Monk's case, deputies were seen on video opening the door to his room, witnessed him lying basically in the same position for three or four days, and kept dropping pills in through the slat in the door without ever physically touching his shoulder or looking him in the eye to find out what was wrong.

Until this agreement, jail policy had mandated that deputies observe cells where Monk was living every 30 minutes but didn't specify what an observation entailed.

Monk's attorneys also alleged that some of the deputies forged the checks, pretending to have looked in in Monk, when in fact, they allegedly hadn't provided any meaningful care. 

The coroner ultimately ruled that Monk died of cardiovascular disease. 

His sisters had been trying to get the jail to accept his medications, but they were stopped because of bureaucratic hurdles. The jail finally allowed his medications on the day after he died.

Monk was arrested during the pandemic for verbally threatening a bus driver because he didn't want to wear a mask. He also suffered from schizaffective disorder. 

As for the new rules at the jail, Nia'More Monk said they will only be relevant if they're followed and if there are penalties meted out to those who disregard them.

"I hope they put better people in place," she said, adding that she plans to use some of her settlement money to open beauty shops.  

Clarke added that these changes at the jail are the "first steps but not the only steps" in making a real difference for the quality of care at the jail. 

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

(From L-R) Nia' Mor , Tiffany and Elvira Monk the daughter and sisters of Maurice Monk, who languished for days at Santa Rita Jail.