During the month of September, three inmates — including a Fontana resident — died after being in custody at West Valley Detention Center (WVDC) in Rancho Cucamonga.
According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department:
• Brian Alberts, 43, of Apple Valley was found dead in his cell;
• Isaiah Hernandez, 29, of Barstow was found unresponsive in his cell and later died at a hospital;
• Russell Garcia, 56, of Fontana experienced a medical emergency and was transported to a hospital, where he died 11 days later.
In response to the death of Hernandez, a government damages claim has been filed against San Bernardino County and WVDC by civil rights attorneys Brian Dunn and Ed Lyman of Cochran Firm California.
On Oct. 13, family members and friends of Hernandez held a protest at WVDC to denounce what they said was the poor treatment of the inmate at the jail, which is operated by the Sheriff’s Department.
“Hernandez, who suffered from Type 2 diabetes and mental health conditions, was arrested by Barstow police in March after having an altercation with a family member,” Lyman said. “He spent seven months at the WVDC, during which time he was purportedly denied medication to manage his diabetes, despite him and his family continuously voicing concerns that his health was deteriorating and he was suffering symptoms consistent with untreated Type 2 diabetes. This included slurring his words, complaining of chest pains and requesting a wheelchair days before his death — all of which were signs to his family that he was going into a diabetic coma.”
Hernandez died on Sept. 15.
“During the seven months he was detained, WVDC staff repeatedly told his family they had checked up on Hernandez and that he was healthy and doing fine,” Lyman said.
The protesters alleged that the conditions at the WVDC as well as negligence throughout the facility contributed to his death.
Emma Hernandez, one of Isaiah’s sisters who spoke at the event, said that her brother “suffered severe neglect, abuse, humiliation, and was denied human rights” in a previous message to the Herald News.
“He had two 10-year-old daughters (twins), as well as two sisters and a mother, who are completely devastated and torn apart,” Emma Hernandez said. “Especially knowing how his last months were spent due to the horrific environment at the West Valley Detention Center.”
She said she was seeking justice for Isaiah Hernandez as well as the other persons who “have suffered and passed away while in the care of the West Valley Detention Center.”
A Sheriff’s Department spokesperson said the county would not be commenting on the pending litigation.