Mom sues San Diego County, blames jail for her son's death

Posted at 6:41 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 22:25:14-04

VISTA, Calif. - A Vista mother has filed a lawsuit against the county of San Diego, blaming the county for her son's death.

Last year, Rochelle Nishomoto's son was taken to jail, and she claims jail officials were careless and allowed him to hang himself.

"He was a very kind, honest person," Nishomoto said of her son Jason.

Jason Nishomoto was a student, worked as a welder and was religious. His mother added, "If you didn't know he had the diagnosis, you probably wouldn't know."

Jason was diagnosed a schizophrenic, and he struggled with depression. Last September, Jason took an entire bottle of seizure meds.

"He was just pacing," his mother said. "He would pick something up and put it down. He was just pacing, pacing, pacing."

Jason ended up grabbing a shovel and fighting with his brother. Sheriff's deputies showed up and arrested Jason, hauling him off to jail for the first time.

"My son was not a criminal," Nishomoto said.

Nishomoto said a jail nurse later called asking about his medication.

"I told him his diagnosis," she said.

Nishomoto said the jail knew he was suicidal. Her lawsuit claims the jail failed to monitor, evaluate or properly house him.

A few days after Jason was arrested, he took his own life.

"That's when I started uncontrollably crying," Nishomoto said.

"All of those signs and warnings, all of those things that are being told, are being blatantly ignored by the county," said lawyer Chris Morris, who is representing Jason's family.

"Instead of being monitored every 15 minutes, he was monitored once an hour. Instead of being placed in tear-away clothes, he was placed in normal clothes. Instead of having tear-away sheets, he was placed in normal sheets," Morris added.

Morris said San Diego jails have a growing suicide rate. He said since 2013, there have been 21 inmates who have taken their own lives.

Nishomoto hopes to spread awareness through her son's tragedy.

"The mentally ill can be treated as they need to be treated," she said.

10News reached out to the San Diego County Sheriff's Office, but a spokeswoman said they don't comment on pending litigation.