A fifth inmate dies 
at SLO County Jail in 
just more than a year



At about 3 a.m. on March 24, correctional deputies at the San Luis Obispo County Jail noticed that Sean Michael Alexander, 33, had stopped moving in his single cell.

At 3:47 a.m., Alexander, of Pismo Beach, was pronounced dead at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. His passing marked the fifth inmate death at the SLO County Jail since January 2014.

“We view any death as tragic, whether in the community or the county jail,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla told New Times. “We don’t see a trend in the deaths at the jail, though. The deaths are all very tragic but all very different from each other.”

Cipolla said Alexander was booked into the jail on March 18 on a probation violation as well as being under the influence of an unnamed controlled substance.

According to Cipolla, correctional deputies noticed Alexander moving into a kneeling position beside his bed, but he was showing no signs of distress at that time. Alexander’s cell was under video surveillance, and once he subsequently laid his head on his mattress and stopped moving, deputies went into his cell, where they found him unresponsive.

“Our investigators do not suspect foul play in this death,” Cipolla said. “We will perform an autopsy and expect toxicology results back within six to eight weeks.”

To recap, Rudy Silva, 35, died in SLO County Jail in January 2014 after previously being hospitalized with the flu; Josey Meche, 28, died in March 2014 due to a methamphetamine-induced heart attack; Timothy Janowicz, 29, died in May 2014 of a heroin overdose; David Osborn Sr., 63, died on Jan. 11 of a heart attack; and Alexander died on March 24.

Cipolla said that the Sheriff’s Office is “constantly reviewing and revising our polices to make sure that no inmate dies.” He pointed to the K-9 assigned to detect narcotics at the jail and a recently acquired full-body scanner at the facility as proactive steps taken toward that end.

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