San Diego Sheriff's Department investigates after man dies in Central Jail shower

File photo – A view of the exterior of San Diego Central Jail downtown. (KSWB)

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — A 42-year-old man died Wednesday evening at San Diego Central Jail while in the custody of the Sheriff's Department, marking at least the fifth in-custody death in the county this year so far.

The man was found unresponsive in the shower area of ​​a housing module at the jail around 5:54 p.m., according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Deputies responded after other incarcerated people reported it to jail staff.

Upon arrival, the Sheriff's Department said deputies suspected the man was having a medical emergency and called for help. He was then placed in a wheelchair to be transported to the prison medical unit, but prison medical staff arrived at the housing unit before he was transferred.

According to the sheriff's department, paramedics responded shortly afterward, providing immediate medical care. Despite these efforts, the man died.

The man's identity has not been released by authorities, pending notification of family.

However, the Sheriff's Department said the man was arrested the day before on a misdemeanor warrant for three counts: intent to defraud and two drug-related charges. Authorities also believe he was homeless at the time of his arrest.

The Citizen's Law Enforcement Review Board has been notified of the incident. Meanwhile, the San Diego Medical Examiner's Office will determine the cause and manner of death, and the sheriff's homicide unit is investigating.

The man's death is at least the fifth in-custody death in San Diego area detention centers this year – the second at the downtown Central Jail.

San Diego County has faced scrutiny in recent years over its jail conditions, following a 2022 state audit that found the county had the death rate of highest inmates in California.

Although local law enforcement officials have made progress in addressing security issues since the audit, including issuing summaries of inmate deaths, it appears conditions have not improved significantly, the county with the third highest number of inmate deaths last year.

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