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Lawsuits & Litigation

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed After Woman Died in San Diego Police Custody

— November 13, 2019

A wrongful death lawsuit was recently filed against the city of San Diego, the police department, and others after a woman died in police custody.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed in federal court earlier this month on behalf of the son of Aleah Jenkins, a 24-year-old woman who died while in police custody in San Diego last year. According to the lawsuit, Jenkins was being booked into jail after “being arrested in a traffic stop” when she passed out and then fell into a coma. Nine days later she died. As a result, the suit was filed and names the city of San Diego, Police Chief David Nisleit, and officers Nicholas Casciola, Jason Taub and Lawrence Durbin as defendants.

Side view of parked police car; image by Matt Popovich, via
Side view of parked police car; image by Matt Popovich, via

What happened to cause Jenkins to pass out, though? Did the officers notice anything off during the arrest? Why was she arrested in the first place? For starters, the incident occurred back on November 27, 2018, when Jenkins was riding as a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over during a traffic stop for an expired registration. During the traffic stop, “officers believed she had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for possession of methamphetamine,” according to prosecutors. However, the suit argues the warrant was issued for her twin sister instead.

During the traffic stop, Jenkins became ill and began to vomit. During the trip to police headquarters, the suit alleges she “repeatedly pleaded with officers to get her help.” According to the police officers, “medical personnel were called off from responding because Jenkins claimed she was only suffering from an upset stomach.” However, the suit claims the officers neglected Jenkins and ignored the urgency of her condition. It further states:

Officers neglected to take her to a hospital, passed three ambulances on the nearly one-hour drive from La Jolla to downtown police headquarters and did not secure any medical assistance for her despite clear signs that (she) needed medical attention.”

To make matters worse, the suit alleges the officers “refused to provide (Jenkins) with medical attention even when they were at the police station.” Additionally, the lawsuit accuses Durbin of “accusing Jenkins of faking it and telling her that she could be additionally booked for resisting arrest if she continued faking.”

But Jenkins wasn’t faking. Instead, she passed out during the booking process and was immediately transported to UCSD Medical Center’s critical care unit.  Soon after arriving, she fell into a coma and passed away on December 6, 2018. The cause of death, according to an investigation by the District Attorney’s Office, was due to “extremely high levels of methamphetamine in her system.” As a result, it was determined that the officers involved in her arrest “would not be criminally charged in her death.” Despite that, Jenkins’ family alleges the “officers ignored the severity of her condition, delaying possibly life-saving medical care.”


Wrongful Death lawsuit filed on behalf of woman who died in SDPD custody

Lawsuit Filed On Behalf Of Son Of Woman Who Died In SDPD Custody

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