'This Could've Been Avoided': Family Blames San Francisco Sheriff's Department for Inmate's Suicide - NBC Bay Area
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'This Could've Been Avoided': Family Blames San Francisco Sheriff's Department for Inmate's Suicide

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    The family of a man who committed suicide in jail is blaming the San Francisco Sheriff's Department for his death. Mark Matthews reports. (Published Friday, July 31, 2015)

    The family of a man who committed suicide in jail is blaming the San Francisco Sheriff's Department for his death.

    Family members said Alberto Carlos Petrolino was not placed on suicide watch after deputies had been told repeatedly the 50-year-old inmate was suicidal.

    Petrolino was arrested on Saturday for allegedly twice violating a stay-away order, San Francisco sheriff's assistant legal counsel Mark Nicco said. The inmate on Tuesday hung himself in the shower.

    Petrolino's family said he was facing a lot of problems.

    "He had a very strong problem with alcohol," sister Angela Petrolino said.

    Petrolino was taken into custody at the Golden Gate Bridge, where CHP officers found him intoxicated and sleeping it off on a park bench.

    He told a responding officer he was not thinking about jumping from the bridge and that his ex-girlfriend overreacted, according to the CHP.

    The officer then noticed there was an outstanding warrant for Petrolino, prompting him to be taken into jail.

    "I called Saturday night to verify, make sure he was there," Angela said.

    Angela said she called the jail Saturday, Sunday and Monday to remind deputies that her brother was suicidal.

    When Petrolino was booked the CHP officer explained he was suicidal -- a warning from his ex-girlfriend -- in addition to the reminders from his sister. But the jail relied on its own evaluation.

    "She said that they interviewed him and he appeared fine," Angela said. "He appeared find so he was put in a regular pod with everybody."

    When Petrolino appeared in court on Monday, his public defender said he looked distraught.

    "When I was speaking to him he seemed sad and he was crying," said Elizabeth Camacho, who represented Petrolino in court.

    Camacho said she asked the judge for a psychiatric evaluation.

    The following day Petrolino was found dead after he had been allowed a 15-minute shower by himself.

    "The whole family is heartbroken because this could've been avoided," said Jaire Vieira, Angela's boyfriend. "He could've been here today."

    An attorney for the Sheriff's Office said there are three separate investigations underway by the department, San Francisco police and the medical examiner's office.

     

    Bay City News contributed to this report.

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