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Protest takes place following release of video showing inmate's death

Charlie Guese

Original story here

Release of a video purportedly showing the death of an inmate at the San Luis Obispo County Jail has triggered calls for a new sheriff and district attorney. The video has also reopened wounds for inmate Andrew Holland's family.

"As we've watched this go forward, the chair is an instrument, the tool that killed our son," said Carty Holland, the father of Andrew Holland. "You can have the chair, I suppose, I don't see the need for the chair with the staff, but one thing that you have to change is the mentality of how you treat people."

The parents of Andrew Holland spoke on camera for the first time since the video's release on Friday. The video, obtained by the San Luis Obispo Tribune, appears to show the final hours of Holland's life. The Atascadero man, who suffered from schizophrenia, died in jail in January 2017 after being tied to a chair for 46 hours. The coroner declared his death a result of natural causes because of an intrapulmonary embolism, or more commonly known as a blood clot. Blood clots can happen from prolonged period of sitting.

Holland was initially booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail in September 2015. The Sheriff's Office said Holland was charged with resisting arrest with force, battery on a police officer, battery and violating probation, among other charges.

KSBY News has not obtained the video of Holland's death nor has the county officially released it despite a public records request in July.

The Holland family settled with the county in July, accepting a $5 million settlement. The county also announced changes in jail protocol in order to try to prevent situations similar to Holland's from happening again.

"We'd like to put it all behind us," said Sharon Holland, Andrew's mother, "but we don't want to put behind the change and what could come out of his death."

The Holland family has become vocal supporters of Mike Cummins, who is hoping to unseat District Attorney Dan Dow. The family is also backing Gregory Clayton, who is contesting Ian Parkinson in the sheriff's race in June.

The Holland family is calling on District Attorney Dan Dow to start an investigation. As of Friday, the FBI's investigation into the death of Andrew Holland remains open. The FBI will decide whether criminal or civil rights charges should be filed against the jail.

Protesters gathered outside the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse on Saturday, calling for Dow and Parkinson's resignations.

"You can see them (sheriff's deputies at the jail) laughing on the footage, which is despicable," said Tarrah Graves, the co-chair for the San Luis Obispo County Progressives Club. "The fact that those are the people who are in charge of caretaking people's lives while they're at their most vulnerable as prisoners is unacceptable."

Several human rights groups and other activists organized the demonstration. The activists claim that the video contradicts statements from the Sheriff's Office immediately following Holland's death.

In a demonstration of solitude, volunteers are sitting in a chair outside the courthouse and will continue until 46 hours have passed - the same amount of time Holland spent in a restraint chair.

"The video is important because without the video, we could just be a family that is upset that a loved one died," said Corban Holland, the older brother of Andrew Holland, who spoke to the crowd of protesters on Saturday.

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon also attended Saturday's rally, calling on Sheriff Ian Parkinson to step aside in his reelection bid.

Saturday afternoon, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office released a statement seemingly placing the blame for what happened to Holland on the Mental Health Department.

"The Sheriff’s Office contacted County Mental Health multiple times requesting that Mr. Holland be transferred to the Mental Health facility for treatment.  The Mental Health Department refused to accept him, claiming that they were at “capacity.” It was later determined that their claim was untrue and Mental Health could have taken custody of Mr. Holland for treatment," the statement said. "The Sheriff's Office had no alternative other than to place Mr. Holland in restraints."

In November, records obtained by KSBY News from County Mental Health showed that the Psychiatric Health Facility was full. The records show only 16 beds to treat patients coming from hospitals and the jail.

"Many people had different pieces of information, and we didn't all collectively have the same information," said Behavioral Health Administrator Anne Robin in an interview that aired on November 20. "That's where some communication broke down to really facilitate what might have been a different process that weekend."

Robin also said that since Holland's death, the process to transfer inmates into the mental health facility has been expedited.