Lawyer trapped for hours in San Diego jail room

SAN DIEGO - An attorney said he went to the downtown San Diego jail to visit a client and ended up becoming a prisoner himself.

10News tracked down the local attorney who found himself trapped for hours inside a visitation at the Men's Central Jail downtown.

Vista attorney Erubey Lopez said he may take legal action against the county after jail staff forgot about him inside a locked visitation room.

"What kind of mistake is this," he said. "How do you forget about somebody like that."

The San Diego Sheriff's Department confirmed that Lopez was buzzed in shortly before 8:30 p.m. Feb. 19.

Lopez said 30 minutes after that, the man he'd traveled to see still hadn't shown up, so he hit the intercom button to ask what was going on. He found that it was broken. He yelled and banged on the door, but it took four hours for a guard to discover him and let him out.

"I pressed it once, then I pressed it twice and it did ring but no answer and I thought it was weird because there were obviously people downstairs," he said.

Lopez said he spent the next three and a half hours in a panic, realizing the jail had forgotten about him and his visit.

"My polite knocking on the door had become a really hard hitting the door and screaming, 'Hey!' said Lopez. "I figured okay they forgot about me, the button isn't working, I'm probably gonna have to sleep here. I tried the floor it was really cold, the chairs."

At around 12:30 a.m., a guard finally noticed Lopez and let him out.

Sheriff's Cmdr. John Ingrassia confirmed the incident, calling it "unfortunate."

The department also said that there was a breakdown in communication and that there was a 'working' call button in an adjacent room that Lopez could have used, but it wasn't clearly labeled.

Ingrassia said inmates are usually brought to the visiting room within a half hour, but Lopez' client was still being booked, passing between various deputies, so the message that he had a visitor was somehow lost.

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