San Diego

County pays $4.35 million to inmate who tore out her eyeballs

Guards refused to put restraints on Tanya Suarez who was within the throes of a meth-induced psychosis

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The county of San Diego has agreed to pay $4.35 million to a lady who gouged each of her eyeballs out whereas in a methamphetamine-induced psychosis at Las Colinas Detention Facility in 2019.

The multi-million greenback payout provides to the thousands and thousands the county and taxpayers have shelled out for systemic failures inside San Diego County jails.

Tanya Suarez was simply 23 years outdated when police arrested her at a San Diego fuel station on May 6, 2019.

Suarez, in accordance to court docket paperwork obtained by CBS 8, was attending San Diego State University when she started experimenting with meth. That night time, in accordance to a 2020 lawsuit, the “experiment went terribly wrong.”

Suarez was delusional, screaming on the officers to shoot her, and was subsequently arrested for being beneath the affect of a managed substance.

Upon arriving at Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee, Suarez, who was nonetheless appearing unusual, informed an consumption nurse that she had not too long ago tried suicide. 

Minutes later, the delusions intensified and Suarez shouted that she feared the guards had been planning to torture her. 

At 4:38 that morning, Suarez, in accordance to her criticism, made her first try at clawing her eye out.

Deputies on the jail wrestled with Suarez, inserting handcuffs on her and positioned a spit sock over her head. 

Yet, regardless of the threats of self-harm, Suarez’ criticism says jail supervisors failed to take the recommendation from a deputy to place Suarez in a security cell.

According to the lawsuit, a deputy informed supervisors on the time, “I suggested to the supervisors on scene the option of utilizing the Prostraint chair to prevent Suarez further harming herself or possible having to use force to stop her again in the future,” reads the lawsuit.

Instead, the criticism states that Suarez was stripped and positioned inside a cell. In an try to cut back the danger of her tearing at her eyeballs, deputies clipped her fingernails. However, the identical deputy who requested to restrain Suarez says her nails appeared extra jagged and sharp than they did prior to the clipping. 

According to the federal criticism, at 5:04 am, a deputy started recording Suarez thrashing round and clawing at her eyeball whereas bare inside her cell.

Six minutes later guards seen an eyeball on the ground. Despite this, they failed to restrain Suarez. Seconds later, Suarez tore out her different eye.

Now, Suarez, who is totally blind, has agreed to settle her lawsuit towards the county for $4.35 million. 

Danielle Pena, a associate at PHG Law Group which makes a speciality of jail and custody claims, represented Suarez.

Pena says Suarez is glad the case is over and might now transfer on with her life.

Pena, nonetheless says the settlement is simply one other instance of the necessity for reform in county jails.

“When you arrest someone, and you incarcerate them, they are in your care and custody,” Pena informed CBS 8. “And if they were given some foreseeable notice that Ms. Suarez was going to harm herself, they had the responsibility to intervene. The county was hit with a $4.3 million dollar settlement because they knew [Suarez] was going to inflict harm on her eyesight. And they let her do it.”

But Pena says there’s rather more to this case.

According to the criticism, and to Pena, the watch commander who determined to forego restraints that morning in 2019 additionally allegedly instructed others to take away any point out of that of their experiences.

“Discovery revealed that [Supervisors] removed the [deputies] incident report that referenced utilizing the Prostraint Chair to prevent [Suarez] from further injuring herself prior to placement in the safety cell,” reads the lawsuit.

To make issues worse, says Pena, is the proof {that a} deputy inside determined to document Suarez exterior of Suarez’s cell as a substitute of getting into to assist.

“She was being recorded on another device by a deputy, instead of intervening, the deputy recorded her. They had notice that an inmate was going to harm themselves. They should have prevented that from happening or taken significant steps to stop it. That did not happen.”

The proof, says Pena, all factors to one factor; the necessity to reform San Diego County’s jails.

“The County of San Diego and its jail system is in crisis mode. It has been for the last seven years. They are making policy adjustments but the people that they have operating those jails need to go. This is going to continue until the county decides to remove these bad actors from operating our jails,” mentioned Pena.

The County of San Diego didn’t reply to CBS 8’s request for remark. 

In an announcement, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department informed CBS 8, “We are grateful the case has been settled, but we know this cannot erase the pain and trauma from this incident or the life-changing aftermath.  The San Diego Sheriff’s Department sends our sincere sympathy to Ms. Suarez, her family, and all who were affected by this horrific and shocking incident.”

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