Maurice Monk died in California jail because officers denied him medication, lawsuit claims 

Monk's siblings repeatedly contacted Alameda County sheriff’s deputies saying that their brother needed several medications.

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Maurice Monk died at the Santa Rita jail last year after staff at the Dublin, California, facility allegedly refused to give the 45-year-old inmate medications he needed for a diagnosed mental illness. On Monday, his family filed a lawsuit alleging a “callous disregard” for Monk’s life, according to The East Bay Times. 

According to the lawsuit, Monk’s siblings repeatedly contacted Alameda County sheriff’s deputies saying that their brother needed several medications, including Halidol, which is used to treat schizophrenia.

Last year, Maurice Monk died at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, California, after its staff allegedly refused to give the 45-year-old inmate medication that he needed. Monk’s family sued authorities last week. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Monk family says they contacted the jail up to 15 times to ensure that he was being given his high blood pressure, diabetes and schizophrenia medications after his Oct. 11 arrest. Monk’s relatives claim that they faced bureaucracy, including being asked to provide faxed copies of Monk’s medical records a day prior to being notified of his Nov. 15 passing.

On that day, the father of two was found in his cell, unresponsive. He reportedly died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease, and his death was deemed of natural causes.

Monk had been in jail for 35 days after a warrant was issued because he missed a court date. He had originally been detained after getting into a verbal argument on a bus about not wearing a face mask. 

“It could have been avoided,” said younger sister Tiffany Monk, 34. “I just want my brother back. I try not to think about it, because it just hurts.”

“This is a case, this a matter, this is a death that should not have happened,” Adanté Pointer, an attorney for the Monk family, told The East Bay Times. “They sent his family on a wild goose chase to try to provide the medical information Mr. Monk so desperately needed to receive.”

“What we have here,” Pointer added, “are jail staff turning a deaf ear to the pleas of Mr. Monk’s family to get him the prescribed medication that he needed in order to make sure that his health was maintained and that he came out of Santa Rita alive.” 

The Times reports that at least 58 people have died at the Santa Rita jail since 2014. Many critics cite a lack of care, specifically for those with mental illness. An earlier lawsuit resulted in a settlement ensuring improvements in its inmates’ mental health care to address claims of “excessive use of isolation, providing an insufficient amount of out-of-cell time and programming, inadequate classification systems, and a lack of due process protections.”

Those concerns were considered a tipping point in an election last month in which four-term incumbent Sheriff Greg Ahern was defeated by Yesenia Sanchez, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office commander of the jail since 2020. She had been a vocal critic of Ahern’s handling of staffing at the facility, promising to improve conditions, increase transparency and upgrade the mental and medical treatment of inmates. 

Behavioral health provider WellPath is responsible for medication dispensing, according to sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Ray Kelly, who noted, “that’s not a decision that’s made by the sheriff, whether or not you get medication or not.” He also said the jail is making “sweeping changes.”

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