By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO – A Sacramento Black man will be spending the holidays languishing in a coma at the UC Davis Medical Center here – he may have been the victim of a chokehold by Sacramento Sheriff’s deputies at the county main Downtown jail, charged Black Lives Matter Sacramento Monday.
The troubled Sacramento jail has been the target of massive lawsuits, and millions of dollars in taxpayer funded payouts for negligence after suicides at the facility.
BLM Sacramento said that while it expects the jail is somehow responsible, it is an unknown right now.
“We just don’t know anything for sure because the Sheriff is not providing any information,” said Tanya Faison of BLM at a press conference in front of the UC MedCenter, where Antonio L. Thomas is hospitalized.
Sheriff Scott Jones is known for providing little to no information after an incident – the department has vehicle dash cams, but deputies do not wear body cameras, as many law enforcement agencies now do for transparency reasons.
There are also booking area, and other cameras online at the Sacramento County Jail – Faison said none of that has been forthcoming.
Anita Thomas, the mother of Antonio, said “they just told me that they needed to talk to me and that no one was in trouble; he had been in jail on a five day hold. They said he was found in his cell unresponsive. I can’t live my life without my son.”
In a statement, BLM Sacramento said:
“His family was lied to. His family, who lives all the way in Citrus Heights, was notified by SacPD (not their jurisdiction) in Citrus Heights…not Sac Sheriff who had him in their custody when it happened…that doesn’t make sense. Doctors said Antonio has to have been in a choke hold till unconscious – Doctors say he has no brain activity.
“He has one cut on his head, and that’s it. No cuts. No broken nails. No bruises. No fight happened and according to his family, Antonio is fully able to defend himself. What it looks like based on what we do know, is that law enforcement put him in a choke hold and then dropped him when he became unconscious. His family is mourning, and they need answers.”
Faison said later that the “family has been left with not one answer to what happened. The jail has cameras, but for some reason law enforcement doesn’t know what happened.”
Noting that the Sacramento County Jail has a “documented history of neglect, abuse, death, torture, and unlivable conditions,” the family and BLM are demanding answers from Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, including:
1. All video that shows the incident that put Antonio Thomas in a coma.
2. The names of all officers and/or inmates involved in the discovery of Antonio when he was found unresponsive. And names of those who gave directives for SacPD to notify the family who was outside of the city police jurisdiction.
3. If there was culpability by deputies, BLM wants those deputies removed from the Sacramento County Jail and terminated from the Sacramento Sheriff Department (because) “they are not safe for our community.”
4. Urging the Board of Supervisors to create a community led commission that oversees reports of misconduct and abuse, with the power to enact “repercussions on deputies involved in said abuse and misconduct.”