Video released of Vista inmate who died in custody

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SAN DIEGO – A recently released video shows the last time a Vista inmate was seen alive before dying in custody.

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

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

“You can see him having difficulty walking,” said Chris Morris, the family’s attorney. “He’s wrapped in a blanket leaning up on the window for his medical call.”

What you don’t see on the tape is even more damaging, Morris said.

“It was six minutes between the nurse arriving at the door to hand out medicine and Daniel finally getting out of bed and feeling well enough to come to the door.”

Sisson suffered from a heroin addiction caused by the struggles of dealing with an arthritic disease called Reiter’s syndrome, which landed him in jail, his mother said.

Morris said the video proves the staff did not check on Sisson.

“The video shows them walking by the cell to do checks,” Morris said. “But unfortunately it looks like they don’t even break [a] 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 trial is expected to conclude next week.

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