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Brickbat: You Don't Want To See This

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Close-up of a body camera on a policeman's uniform | Oleksandr Lutsenko |

For almost eight years, California law enforcement officials kept a death in police custody secret, labeling the case an “accident” and refusing to disclose basic information to journalists and the family of the victim, according to an investigation by Open Vallejo. Darryl Mefferd had seemed disoriented and dehydrated and was making paranoid remarks, so his niece took him to a local hospital, where he was treated with vitamins and a sedative. Doctors wanted him to remain in the hospital, but they did not feel he met the conditions for an involuntary commitment and did not call police. Mefferd left the hospital but outside encountered Vallejo Police Department Officer Jeremy Callinan, who was at the hospital on another call. Callinan ignored the niece’s pleas to take her uncle home, insisting on taking Mefferd into protective custody. Thirty minutes later, Mefferd was dead. The coroner ruled the death an accident, due to a lethal dose of methamphetamine. But Mefferd had spent the previous eight hours in a hospital, where a doctor said his drug diagnosis was “uncomplicated.” A source who had reviewed body camera footage—which has still not been made public—claims that Mefferd either fell or was thrown to the ground before Callinan handcuffed and sat on him for 10 minutes.

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