Attacked Jail Nurse Dies

The nurse who was attacked by an inmate at the county jail in Martinez earlier this week has died.

Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf said in a news conference Tuesday that he had no reason to believe that she would not make a full recovery, so word of her death came as a surprise.

The woman has been identified as Cynthia Palomata, a 55-year-old El Sobrante resident.   She worked at the jail since 2005.

"She was a well respected member of our nursing staff and our hearts go out to her family during this incredibly difficult time," Dr. William Walker, Director of Contra Costa Health Services said in a prepared statement. Adding, "Staff safety is the highest priority and we continue to work closely with the Sheriff’s Office to evaluate safety procedures."

Palomata was hit in the head with a table lamp the inmate grabbed after he faked a seizure Monday afternoon.  She told the guards that the inmate told her he faked the seizure just to get out of the particular waiting room.  Then without provocation he started attacking her with the lamp. 

The suspect is an El Cerrito resident named Aaron Nygaard.  He was brought to the jail initially on charges was burglary.  After the attack, those charges included assault. Now they will be amended to include the charge of murder.

Contra Costa County sheriff's detectives say they will continue to investigate this case, which is being handled as a fatal incident protocol case and is jointly being investigated by the D.A.’s office.

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