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Family reacts to review board's report regarding son's in-custody death

Posted at 11:22 PM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 02:22:15-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The family of William "Hayden" Schuck says they feel vindicated by the County of San Diego's Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board's findings regarding their son's death.

On Tuesday, Schuck's family spoke before the board, thanking them for their independent review while demanding accountability from the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Schuck died in custody in March of 2022, six days after he was arrested for an alleged DUI charge. He was found unresponsive in his cell.

In the detailed report, the CLERB found several failures, saying deputies and medical staff failed to recognize and respond to his medical needs. In one instance, the report states that deputies witnessed him collapse three times and did not escort him to medical. Last May, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county.

"It’s just shocking that nobody lifted a finger to direct him to medical care," said his father, Tim Schuck.

One day, the report claims, deputies failed to provide Schuck with a meal and found he was not provided with a bed, mattress, and/or linens and didn’t have shower access. It also found the sheriff’s department failed to keep illicit drugs out of the jail, finding Schuck somehow got drugs and used them while he was in custody. His parents and attorney dispute that claim.

"The evidence will show that any drugs in Hayden’s system, and there were some, were used pre-custody, said the family attorney, Tim Scott.

The review board’s report comes as Sheriff Kelly Martinez rejected the board’s recommendation to scan all people entering the detention facilities, including employees and deputies. The board plans on re-submitting their request.

ABC 10News reached out for comment, the sheriff's department sent ABC 10News the following statement:

We share the interest of the CLERB in having safe jails in San Diego County. We base all our operational, safety and security decisions on best practices, intelligence, and investigative leads. We always hold the safety of persons in our custody as a priority. The Sheriff carefully reviews all recommendations from the CLERB for possible implementation and will continue to take all input seriously.

I would like to reiterate some of the things we have done in the last year which have been effective in keeping drugs and other contraband out of our jails. Fentanyl is the most dangerous and prevalent of drugs being seized. At intake, every individual booked into Sheriff's custody receives a medical and mental health screening. Additionally, a voluntary urine screening is conducted to understand what substances the individual may have in their system and ensure proper care and treatment can be prescribed during their time in custody.

The Sheriff's Detentions Investigations Unit (DIU) has made numerous updates. This unit has methodically closed the gaps in our security systems that would allow narcotic smuggling. Possessing and/or trafficking narcotics in jail is a felony and we aggressively seek prosecution in all these cases.

We have created a Sheriff's Contraband and Narcotics and Interdiction Team that is specially trained in narcotic detection and prevention at intake. These teams use an information-led policing approach, combined with body scanners, for enhanced identification of dangerous and illicit substances. We have seen record interceptions at the point of booking where narcotics were removed from individuals who were attempting to smuggle them into the jails; these interceptions have had a direct impact on the decrease of overdoses taking place within the facilities.

The Sheriff's Department has centralized its mail processing to better screen mail for drugs. We are conducting better and more thorough searches of the housing units and individuals entering the jails. In addition to planned and spontaneous searches, we also deploy our narcotic interdiction canines throughout all facilities, including staff areas. For security reasons, we cannot publicly speak about all our security practices; however, they are extensive and are showing results.
San Diego Sheriff’s Department Spokesperson

The family’s lawsuit against the county is still pending, the trial is set for next year.