By now you've probably seen the videotape of SLO County Jail inmate Andrew Chaylon Holland's Jan. 22, 2017, death after being strapped into a restraint chair for 46 hours straight. It ain't pretty. Some deputies can be seen laughing as a naked Holland writhes on the floor, dying. They literally just watched the man breathe his last breath. Is that amusing?
Worse still, the videotape proves that SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson bald-face lied about what happened to Holland. He lied about deputies finding Holland "unresponsive." He lied about Holland being under constant medical care during his confinement in the restraint chair. Parkinson is a liar. Period. Not only did he lie—the county supported that lie. Now, Parkinson is trying to deflect his department's culpability in Holland's death and blame other county departments.
Did you really think the public wouldn't find out? Shame on the county for denying media—and therefore, the public—access to that video! Kudos to the SLO Tribune for obtaining it and releasing it!
In a 491-word statement released on the department's Facebook page (guess it wouldn't fit on the 280-word Twitter account), Parkinson tried to transfer the blame to SLO County Behavioral Health.
"The mental health department refused to accept him, claiming that they were at 'capacity,'" Parkinson wrote. "It was later determined that their claim was untrue and mental health could have taken custody of Mr. Holland for treatment."
Is that your excuse for torturing a mentally ill man to death? That another department could have taken him? Guess what? They didn't! He was under your care! You are responsible for his death!
Parkinson goes on to claim his department followed the rules of restraint, to which I say whoopty frickin' doo! Your "rules" killed a man. Did the rules also say your deputies should stand around and laugh as Holland died? That they should mock his mental illness?
"In accordance with the rules, the entire process was videotaped," Parkinson wrote, and thank God for that because otherwise the only account we'd have of what happened was Parkinson's bullshit narrative.
Parkinson also blamed mental health for not sedating Holland: "The Sheriff's Office does not have the legal authority to involuntarily sedate an inmate. The mental health department refused to classify this situation as 'an emergency,' which would have permitted involuntary sedation."
Are sedation and complete immobility really the only two options available? Your department's response to Holland's mental health crisis was to strap him naked to a chair for so long that it caused a blood clot—which traveled to his lung once he was finally able to move freely, resulting in a deadly pulmonary embolism.
The coup de grace to Parkinson's deflection and finger pointing is that the $5 million settlement that went to Holland's family came from county mental health's medical malpractice insurance. Rather than exonerating the county jail, it simply proves the jail is indeed part of the mental health care system in the county, and that the county was at fault in his death.
"The buck stops with Ian Parkinson, whether he likes that or not," SLO Democratic Party Chair Rosemary Wrenn said in a press release calling for Parkinson's resignation. "Sheriff Parkinson has lost the public's trust, and he's demonstrated a lack of character by denying any responsibility or showing any compassion toward the Holland family or thousands of other county residents whose lives are affected every day by mental illness."
Public outcry has been deafening from the get-go, but since the tape came out, anger has ramped up. Between March 17 and 19, 23 people took two-hour shifts sitting in a makeshift "restraint chair" in front of the SLO County Courthouse for 46 hours. On March 20, during the regularly scheduled SLO County Board of Supervisors meeting, a group of more than a dozen protestors shut down the meeting when the group, carrying a man on a stretcher and an "I am Andrew Holland" banner, refused to leave the chambers.
After calling for a 10-minute recess, which didn't dispel protestors, Board Chairman John Peschong adjourned the meeting until 1:30 p.m. The protestors eventually filed out chanting, "How do you spell guilty? I-A-N."
Too many SLO County Jail inmates have died under Parkinson's care. The FBI continues to investigate alleged civil rights violations in the jail. SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow has refused to investigate. Dow's done nothing but protect the sheriff, going so far as to castigate The Tribune for a truthful headline that the FBI is investigating the jail. Former medical examiner Dr. Gary Walter ruled Holland's death "natural." This has been one grand cover-up from the get-go, and now the truth is out.
But why not admit the truth from the beginning? We would be a year farther into much-needed public reforms at the jail and how it provides health care to inmates. Instead, SLO County is part of the national news cycle. Thanks Sheriff Parkinson, for being a shameful embarrassment.
Anyone who's seen the video tape knows the sheriff, the supervisor on duty, and the grinning jackals who laughed as Holland died have no business in law enforcement. You should all resign in shame. Δ
The Shredder still wants Ian Parkinson to sit in a restraint chair for 46 hours. Send ideas and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org