Inmate hangs self at Sacramento County jail

01/31/2013 12:00 AM

01/30/2013 11:08 PM

A 34-year-old Chowchilla man hanged himself in the Sacramento County Main Jail on Monday morning, less than an hour after being booked on suspicion of public intoxication, according to authorities.

Shortly before noon, a Sacramento County sheriff's deputy found Israel Mendoza hanging with a ligature around his neck during a visual inspection of the holding cell Mendoza was in, said sheriff's Sgt. Jason Ramos.

The ligature had been fashioned from a piece of clothing, Ramos said.

Deputies entered the cell, removed the ligature and summoned medical staff members. Deputies and the medical staffers attempted lifesaving measures until paramedics arrived and took Mendoza to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Ramos said.

As is standard procedure, the death will be investigated by the Sheriff's Department according to the agency's policies and state laws. The cause of death will be determined and reported by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office.

On Wednesday, the Coroner's Office identified Mendoza as a resident of Chowchilla. However, it appears he had some connection to Sacramento: Last August, a man with the same name and birth date as Mendoza pleaded no contest in Sacramento Superior Court to a felony charge of drug possession, according to court records available online.

Mendoza was sentenced to five years of formal, searchable probation. Online records indicate he violated the terms of his probation at least twice since then, including once this month, though the records do not explain the nature of the violation.

He was scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 15 for a probation progress report.

Los Angeles Superior Court records available online show Mendoza was charged in 1998 with grand theft, vehicle theft and possession of stolen property. The grand theft charge was dismissed, but Mendoza was held to answer on the other charges. The online records, however, do not indicate the outcome.

A record-high seven suicides in 2002 drew public scrutiny on operations at the jail. However, leaders who have taken the helm of the jail command staff and the Sheriff's Department since then say they addressed the problem in part by changing policies and procedures.

Suicides are now relatively rare at the Main Jail. According to records provided by the Sheriff's Department, seven inmates have committed suicide in the Main Jail since the start of 2007, with a peak of four inmates in 2008. Last year, only one suicide was recorded.

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