Crime - Sacto 911

Man who died in Sacramento police custody identified as parolee, 50

Thomas Jessie Ramirez
Thomas Jessie Ramirez California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

The man who died in Sacramento police custody last week after he was loaded, screaming, into a police cruiser and taken to jail was a 50-year-old parolee who had been in and out of prison since the mid-’90s, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

His name was Thomas Jessie Ramirez, according to the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.

Although an autopsy has been performed, neither law enforcement nor the coroner would comment on how or why Ramirez died. As of Wednesday – a week after Ramirez died in police custody – the Coroner’s Office said it was waiting on additional test results. Last week, police spokesman Officer Justin Brown said Ramirez suffered a medical emergency that contributed to his death.

According to state records, Ramirez was from Fresno. At the time of his death on Feb. 4, Ramirez had been on parole for about two months after being released from prison for knowingly buying items that had been stolen.

It was his third stint, according to prison records. The first came in July 1994, when Ramirez served three years for burglary and selling marijuana. A year later, he was back in for similar crimes.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, Ramirez had his license suspended three times since 2009. Once, he was cited for driving while drunk. Then, in 2010, he was cited for negligence. His license remained suspended last week, when witnesses reported seeing Ramirez peering into cars along 19th Street between H and I.

Sacramento Undersheriff James Lewis said methamphetamine had been found on Ramirez at the time of his arrest.

He had been acting erratically, witnesses said, screaming and pleading for help.

“I’ll do whatever it takes,” he was recorded as shouting in a video as he was being taken into custody. “Give me one more chance.”

Resident Todd Kistler, who works for the Sacramento Bee, recorded the video.

He’d been screaming like that, calling for help and crying out in agony, before police arrived just after midnight last Wednesday, neighbors said.

A few hours later, he was dead.

Sacramento police, who arrested Ramirez and transported him to the jail, have referred all questions about the incident to the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the circumstances surrounding Ramirez’s death.

Lewis said the man resisted law enforcement at every turn and died before he could be properly evaluated by the jail’s on-site nurse to determine whether he was “medically fit” enough to be incarcerated.

It was not immediately clear why medical aid didn’t respond to the initial scene, where witnesses said he screamed wildly even after he had been placed inside a patrol car.

Call The Bee’s Marissa Lang at (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter at @Marissa_Jae.

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