Family of inmate who died in custody sues sheriff’s department

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. – The family of Vista inmate who died in 2011 while serving time is suing the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Shaunda Brummet said her 21-year-old son Daniel Sisson died in his cell at the Vista Detention Facility on June 25, 2011 after suffering an asthma attack. She claims his body was found by jail staff four hours later.

Sisson suffered from a heroin addiction caused by the struggles of dealing with an arthritic disease called Reiter's syndrome.  The addiction landed Sisson in jail, according to his mother.

"I thought, ‘Maybe that's a good safe place for him to be,’" said Brummet. "They didn't take care of him. They didn't even acknowledge that he was really sick."

The family’s attorney Chris Morris said not only did the staff not check on Sisson, there is video to prove it.

"The video shows them walking by the cell to do checks," said Morris, "But, unfortunately it looks like they don't even break stride.  It doesn't even look like they stop at the door or turn to look in.  I mean they just walk right on by."

The family is suing the San Diego Sheriff’s Department for civil violation of being deliberately indifferent to a medical need and failing to follow standard of care.

"They have an affirmative duty under their policies and procedures in the state law to do hourly safety checks," said Morris. "He was supposed to be monitored."

Three years later after Sisson died, his case goes to trial Tuesday morning in federal court.

Fox5 contacted San Diego Sheriff's Department, but they did not respond Monday.


  • Adrienne Brown

    My prayers are with you and hope this goes your way. My son was beaten in jail while the officers watched and did nothing. He was kicked in the head and had to be taken to the hospital. It’s a very scary place where our sons are treated like dogs ! Good luck to you.

  • wes

    I would like to point out that her son had an addition, so why blame the police? If he died from some other issue maybe but a fribilas lawsuit will not solve this issue of an addict coming down off dope.

    • Gale

      It says the addiction landed him in jail but it was an asthma attack that killed him which with correct medication he can survive an asthma attack but because the jailers failed to do there hourly checks he no one notice he was dead for four hours

    • Garro

      I personally knew Daniel and i can tell you it was not the “heroin” that killed him. those cops saw him lying there for hours and did nothing.

    • Joe

      When the state holds a person against their will it is responsible for their welfare. If you are ever locked up I guarantee you will be singing a different tune.

      Incidentally, what is a fribilas lawsuit Einstein?

      • Bill

        Joe, A “fribilas lawsuit” is one brought by an idiot who can’t read. As opposed to a regular run of the mill law suit, the plaintiff in a friblas lawsuit makes dubious assumptions, factual assertions based on fantasy, and generally leaves all scratching their heads.

    • Alex

      1. Read before commenting.
      2. Addiction*
      3. Frivolous*
      4. Nowhere does it say that he was ‘coming down off dope’ — as you put it.
      5. It clearly states he died from an asthma attack.
      6. Regardless of what the crime was or who the person is, guards are supposed to check on the inmates every hour, not just when they feel like it!

  • jim

    Have his families lawyers contact me because in 2011 when I was falsely imprisoned in vista count jail I nearly died from health issues too because they thought I was faking it for attention Until I started vomiting blood everywhere. Then they sat around watching me in pain and vomiting blood for an hour and a half before helping me.

  • Estaben Calabacas

    It is not Rider’s Syndrome. The correct name is Reiter’s Syndrome, and the treatment is not heroin. The mother/family should have provided the professional medical assistance this young man deserved. Life is all about choices, and this kid and the mother/family made the wrong ones, Personal responsibility.
    Reiter’s Syndrome:

  • scott

    Due to the fact that you raised a drug addict son who ended up in Jail the tax payers defiantly owe you millions of dollars for pain and suffering.

  • Mark K

    No sympathy whatsoever. Should’ve never got on drugs to begin with. The stupid deadbeat mother should be sued. Costing taxpayer money to take care of that criminal in jail. If I was the sheriff office I’d counter sue that bitch.

    • Chris W

      For God Sakes Mark K, you imply that you don’t have any empathy for the unfortunate people that wind up addicted to narcotics. Just because he was addicted doesn’t give you the right to bash his loving mother that clearly cares about him more than you will ever care about another human being. The reason why he died was due to an asthma attack, nothing more, there is no documented proof that there were other contributing factors so shame on you for resorting to vague assumptions as your factual base. Negligent behavior in this case deserves to corrected by the only way it can (unfortunately) by lawsuit. It’s not about the money, but forcing an issue to be resolved by making an example of such behavior. We are ALL human beings that deserve compassion and a helping hand, and your hatred shows that you could give 2 shits about the unfortunate. And yes, there are cases in which people take advantage of the system routinely to the point to where they are considered a financial burden, but that doesn’t give you and all you other trolls the right to dehumanize another human being. The problems with the world are not the ‘freeloading drug addicts’, but the soulless cowards and the negligent authority figures with the power to do nothing when another persons life is on the line.

  • wes

    This issue is that if he did not do heroin then he would not have had a withdrawn from the dope. asthma attacks are usually caused by high stress levels, so put it to the stupid people “idiot no drugs, idiot not asthma attack”. There are too many freeloading people in our society already. It seems to me that people are to ignorant to understand that our system is broken because of fibulas lawsuits like this.

  • wes

    If this dope addict killed a little kid while spazzing out, then everyone would be saying “what a piece of *&%@”. The parents need to man up and realize they raised a bad egg. Remember he was in JAIL!!!!!!!

    • Chris W

      So you are basically saying that he deserved to die because he was on drugs? Not that he had a legit medical issue and was ignored when his life could of been saved?

      • Jane

        That doesn’t appear to be at all what he’s saying. And unless you’ve questioned the medical examiner and/or medical professionals who have reviewed this case you can’t say it was the alleged “untreated asthma” that killed him. That’s just what mama, papa, and Fox News are saying.

  • edwin

    You guys don’t even know the whole story just what the media wants you to hear so you can sympathize with this lady he refused med call and he didn’t press the e button or tell his cell mate “hey asshole, get the guard I’m dying here”! And how do u guys know for sure that it was four hours,,,,,,, how do I know? I was there

    • Olivia

      I see families sue over deaths from pre existing medical conditions all the time and I just have to wonder, “who would you blame if this happened at home?”
      An asthma attack can kill a person, even with medication and whose to say he would have had it or used it at home?
      The prison I worked in allowed inmates to keep inhalers in their cells, so I have to wonder where his inhaler was.

    • Jane

      Absolutely, Olivia. Very well said! As an attorney I see the same excuses day in and day out . People just looking for a way to make money. I guess it’s job security for some of my colleagues. But it’s just sad society has utterly forgotten the phenomenon of personal responsibility!!

  • Michelle

    I hope they win their case for their son. What a terrible loss, one that could have been prevented. I think the sherriffs department needs to educate their officers on what they need to look for in inmates that may be sick. Its start anyway.

    • David

      Are you actually encouraging Shaunda Brummet to steal from the taxpayer(s)?! The Sheriff’s Dept. is not a profit generating business, that’s our money. Since you support this nonsense, why don’t you give up all of your hard earned savings to Shaunda Brummet? I hope this case gets tossed out. She should file a civil suite against the individuals involved, not “the taxpayers.”

    • Olivia

      It’s amazing how often they win these cases. I once had an inmate sue the prison because he got beaten up by rival gang members after he egged them on, because we had a duty to keep him safe. Who would have been to blame on the streets?

  • Jane

    People always want to blame others. He was a heroin addict! And someone who committed crimes! But it was not the Heroin that killed him? Or the methods in which he used the heroin (i.e needles, etc.)? Or the medical disease he had? Or combination of all of the above? Nope. It can’t be any of that. It HAS to be the police’s fault because it’s always their fault. Oh wait, no. It has to be the police’s fault because his mourning family members and friends say it’s their fault and because Fox News reported strictly their side of the story. In case you haven’t learned by now, there are always two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in between.

  • Brent

    Not many people actually die in jails. But, those that do are from violence and Medical conditions. Violence is one thing but medical conditions are usually from chronic abuse of drugs or alcohol. These issues are usually picked up by inmates who report or the jailers or th emedical staff. People that have medical conditions like asthma self report or the inmates report the problem. So, in this guys instance nobody, including the inmate reported anything. Why? That really is the question. Jailers do not check every inmate. They check hourly, in most jails for the general inmate situation. If the inmate is in a safety cell, chair, or medical they are checked physically every 15 minutes. sometimes things happen in the jail and it is just not the jailers fault.

  • Sue Hardy

    i will remain unnamed… life is sometimes very difficult. we love our children but sometimes they go down the path that is not the best choice, i think we have all done this at certain points and stages in our life..I have said this to my grandaughter I HOPE THAT SOME DAY WE CAN LOOK BACK ON THESE TIMES AND SAY WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT,? I HOPE YOU LIVE…I HOPE YOU FIND PEACE IN YOUR HEART,, I HOPE THE DAY COMES WE CAN SIT DOWN AND CHAT AGAIN,,,I LOVE YOU..
    This can happen to anyone ,any family.. any time ,dont think for one minute anyone is exempt from hard times.. PRAY,,LOVE. CARE,, for there but for the grace of god i go xoxoxoxo

  • Ann

    So I’ve read some of the comments about people being treated like “dogs” in prison and I have to say that prison is not supposed to be a nice place. People go there because they did something illegal and they are being punished for a choice they made. It’s not societies fault that your “sons” break the law and end up in prison and maybe if their mothers held them accountable for their actions growing up instead of blaming everyone else they wouldn’t be where they wound up. With that being said, the police department should have provided basic medical care to someone with asthma. I agree with that. But they aren’t babysitters. It is unfortunate that this young man died of an asthma attack while in prison but he also made some very bad choices that landed him there. Their were other medical avenues to treat his arthritis besides heroin and I just don’t buy that story at all that he was doing heroin to treat his arthritis. He was doing it for the high, wake up people. And it was his choice whether he got clean or kept heading down the same path. Nobody could have made that choice for him and unfortunately he went to jail and was not properly treated for his asthma. We have some of the cushiest jails in the world though. In my personal opinion we are to soft on people in prison. If it was tougher we wouldn’t see so many repeat offenders. And as for someone’s statement that ” you would feel differently if you were in jail”. If your not doing anything illegal you won’t end up in jail. The choice is up to you where you want your life to go. And this kid unfortunately made bad choices.

  • David

    You should teach your kids not to be criminals! We, the tax payer(s), shouldn’t have to continue paying for his crimes after his death via frivolous lawsuites.

  • Sanchez

    So, this guy is a heroin addict and has arthritis. So what. He broke the law knowing the consequence was being arrested and put in jail. Does it suck he died? For the parents, yes- for the rest of us, no. It’s called responsibility. If you don’t want to go to jail where you get awful medical care then don’t break the law. Simple. Quit being such whiners, family. He was going to die soon anyway being a heroin addict and all. Now you just see dollar signs because it’s the Sheriff Departments fault your son died, not his own. I hope all the enabling parents and family members wise up. He was an adult who made bad decisions and paid for it with his life. That was his choice.
    For those who are complaining about almost dying in jail, get over it. You broke the law and went to jail. You know why I don’t do drugs or steal? Because I would never want to be in jail!
    Who knows if his mom was a good one or not. It does not matter. I hope she does not get a dime. He was just another addict. It happens.

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