The parents of a man who died in Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department custody two years ago filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county this week.
Ryan Ellis was wanted for a parole violation when he was arrested May 4, 2017, in North Highlands, after deputies received a call about a man who had violated a restraining order, the Sheriff’s Department said at the time.
While he was being driven to jail, Ellis kicked out the rear window of the patrol car and jumped out, the department said. According to a toxicology report, he had methamphetamine in his system.
A Sacramento County inspector general report later found the deputy driving the patrol car did not stop when Ellis kicked out the window, driving another half-mile before he jumped out.
The deputy also failed to put a seat belt on Ellis, and didn’t make sure the in-car camera was turned on, the report found. Both are violations of Sheriff’s Department policy, and the deputy received written reprimands, according to the report.
“I am informed and believe that the Sheriff’s Deputies placed him in the back of the squad car to transport him to tthe (sic) Sacramento County Jail without properly securing him in the vehicle as they had a duty to prevent injury,” Ellis’ father, Ryan Sylvester, wrote in his complaint.
“As a result of their negligence he was thrown from the squad car,” the complaint alleged.
Sacramento Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Sgt. Tess Deterding said the department could not comment on the incident, pending litigation. She said, however, that the department’s initial report that Ellis “jumped” out of the car – as opposed to being “thrown” out as the complaint alleges – is accurate.
The complaint was physically filed in Sacramento Superior Court by Sylvester’s friend Carl White on behalf of Ellis’ family. Sylvester is currently an inmate at Sacramento County jail, and Ellis’ mother, Angela Ellis, lives in Las Vegas, White said.
“She says she’s traumatized by the whole event,” White said. “She’s still not herself.”
Ellis’ family is seeking $10 million, according to the complaint, which mentions the cost of the morgue, cremation and outstanding medical bills at Mercy San Juan Medical Center, where Ellis received treatment for his critical injuries before dying the next day.
“I lost the companionship of my son who was untimely taken from me,” Sylvester wrote in the complaint.
The first hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 7.