By Miriam Raftery
Photo: cc via Bing
July 21, 2021 (San Diego) – A fentanyl overdose may have claimed the life of 22-year-old Saxon Rodriguez, an inmate at the San Diego Central Jail. He was found unresponsive in his cell, which had two other inmates, yesterday at 10 a.m. Despite lifesaving efforts by deputies and medical personal, Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the facility.
An autopsy today by the County Medical Examiner found Rodriguez tested positive for Fentanyl, a powerful opiate, however more laboratory tests are required to confirm the cause and manner of his death.
“No evidence of foul play was discovered,” says Lt. Thomas Seiver.
But activist Tasha Williamson disagrees. On Facebook, she wrote, "Drug overdose in a jail with the highest in custody deaths is foul play...walk in and rolled out dead, this jail system ain’t safe. One death on average per month."
Rodriguez was a resident of Chula Vista. He was arrested July 16 on charges of indecent exposure and assault with a deadly weapon that was not a firearm.
More than 150 inmates have died in custody in San Diego County facilities run by the Sheriff’s department since 2009, the highest rate among all large California’s counties. The alarming rate prompted Dr. Akilah Weber, our region’s new Assemblymember, to propose a measure along with some other members of the San Diego legislative delegate that would require an independent state audit of San Diego County jail deaths. A joint legislative audit committee approved the measure earlier this month.
“The approval of this audit request may provide answers to the many families who have lost loved ones while in the custody of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office,” said Assemblymember Weber. "A jail sentence should not be a de facto death sentence. We can use this opportunity to uncover the disparities of the department protocol so that we can implement better procedures for protecting the safety of incarcerated individuals.”
The California State Auditor estimates a seven-month timeframe to complete the report, according to a press release from Weber’s office.
The death of Rodriguez comes just three days after seven inmates were found to have overdosed on Fentanyl at the Otay Mesa detention facility, but deputies and medical personnel were able to save those inmates’ lives by promptly administering Naloxone.