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O.C. jail staff cleared in death of inmate who didn't get medication

D.A. clears Orange County jail staff in death of inmate who didn't get blood-pressure medication

No criminal charges will be filed in the death of an Orange County jail inmate who suffered a heart attack the day he was not given his prescribed medication, county prosecutors announced.

Though witnesses told investigators that both a deputy and a jail nurse ignored Jeffrey Jay Johnson the morning of Dec. 4, 2013, when he said he hadn’t been administered his blood pressure medication, there is no way to know if that’s why he died that evening of a heart attack, the Orange County district sttorney’s office said in its report.

Johnson, 49 -- who suffered from chronic back pain and high blood pressure -- had been treated in custody for both conditions during his months in jail. An autopsy revealed an artery in his heart was 99% blocked when he died.

The blockage in his artery put him at an acute risk for a heart attack, “a significant threat and a tragic reality for Johnson,” the report states.

But medical personnel had no way of knowing he had this type of ailment and their failure to provide him with his medication by that evening “cannot be considered, with any medical certainty, as a contributing factor to his heart attack," the report added.

The report states that had medical staff given him his medication, “it would not have prevented the heart attack that ultimately caused his death.”

Prosecutors had said that a possible involuntary manslaughter charge was possible if jail staff had been found criminally negligent.

Johnson was in jail on an outstanding warrant and felony drug possession charges and had been transferred to a minimum-security facility the day he died.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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