Monterey County Settles Jailhouse Suicide Case

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge dismissed as settled a mother’s claims that Monterey County refused to help her mentally ill son who later fatally stabbed a taxi driver and then hanged himself in jail.
     In her order dismissing the case with prejudice, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said she will oversee the completion of the parties’ settlement process.
     Silvia Guersenzvaig sued Monterey County, several local and county law enforcement officers and two hospitals over their involvement in the death of her 20-year-old son, Joshua Claypole.
     Claypole appeared at the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula in May 2013 asking for help, having been a patient at the hospital before. He had just been released from the county jail in Redwood City after his car was impounded because he was suspected of driving under the influence.
     The hospital staff called the police and ordered Claypole to leave, and several hours later Claypole fatally stabbed a taxi driver.
     While in the custody of the Seaside and Monterey police departments – and later the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department – Claypole exhibited signs of mental illness and suicidal ideation, including comments about how he wanted to die by lethal injection and have his body cremated.
     But the officers never evaluated Claypole for mental illness and although they briefly placed him on suicide watch, Claypole was soon returned to the jail’s general population. He was found hours later, hanging in his cell from a noose made of torn bed sheets.
     His mother sued for violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, medical malpractice and wrongful death.
     Neither side’s lead counsel responded to emails requesting information about the settlement’s proposed terms and award amount.

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