San Diego

Family of Mentally Ill Man Files Wrongful Death Claim With San Diego County

A San Diego family has filed a claim against the San Diego County Sheriff's Department alleging their mentally ill son was mistreated while in the central jail. 

Paul Silva, 39, was rushed to the hospital on February 22, 36 hours after he was taken into custody by San Diego police and transported to the San Diego Central Jail.

Silva was schizophrenic but was not on his prescribed medication when his mother called law enforcement authorities to have him taken to a medical facility for treatment, the family said.

“I said, 'He needs to be taken to the hospital. He needs to be put back on his meds,” Silva’s mother, Leslie Allen told NBC 7. “He's a good guy when he's on his medication."

Instead, the family and their attorney said Silva was taken to the Central Jail downtown and handed over to San Diego County Sheriff's Deputies.

Deputies used a stun gun on Silva four times while he was in custody, according to attorneys James Frantz and Gene Iredale.

“The brought him down onto the ground,” Frantz said. “And they collapsed his lung.”

Silva's family's attorneys said Silva suffered a cardiac arrest while in custody.

A sheriff's department spokesperson confirmed Silva was taken to the hospital.

"He was "observed by staff in apparent medical distress on February 21," Lt. Karen Stubkjaer told NBC 7. 

Silva was hospitalized in a coma for weeks before the decision was made by the family to remove life support. 

The department was informed of Silva's death on March 28, Stubkjaer said.

Allen said she now regrets calling law enforcement to help with her son.

“I shouldn't have. My son's gone because I called them for help and they did not take care of him,” Allen said.


The San Diego Union-Tribune reports a San Diego police officer made the decision to transport Silva to the jail instead of the hospital because he concluded that Silva was under the influence of methamphetamine. 

The family has filed a claim with the county alleging wrongful death.

"The investigation, in this case, is to be conducted by the sheriff's office which is investigating the conduct of sheriff's officials supposedly in an impartial and objective manner," Iredale said. 

He added the detective in charge of the investigation has not contacted the Silva family. 

Attorneys for the family say lab results were negative for any alcohol, amphetamines, opiates, methadone, barbiturates or cocaine. 

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