D.A.: Deputies not guilty in Costa Mesa man's death

The Orange County district attorney's office has concluded that Sheriff's Department deputies are not culpable for the death of a Costa Mesa man while he was in custody.

In a letter Monday to Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, the D.A. stated that Keith Eric Files, 28, died due to methadone toxicity Nov. 30, 2010.

Files had been arrested and booked into Orange County Jail the day before for violating his probation after he left the Roque Center, a treatment facility in Garden Grove.

Probation Officer Laura McMahon had learned that Files had left the center. She informed him that he would need to report to her office for arrest.

When Files returned to the center to get his belongings, he told a patient that he had ingested 25 methadone pills and planned to take more while to jail, according to the letter.

McMahon, who arrested and booked Files, indicated in Files' intake forms that he did not seem to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or look disoriented and confused, according to the letter.

A medical screening revealed that Files took Paxil, an anti-depressant. When staff checked his vital signs, he denied any discomfort, pain or medical issues.

Sheriff's Deputy Jaime Cuadras told the D.A. that Files appeared "jovial" when he chatted with him through his cell door between 9 and 10 p.m. The deputies visually checked on the inmates hourly and never noted anything odd until the next morning, according to the letter.

At 7:36 a.m. Nov. 30, a deputy saw Files' "colorless" feet and attempted to rouse him, but he was unresponsive. Medical staff and other deputies administered CPR and eventually the Santa Ana Fire Department dispatched paramedics. Files, however, was pronounced dead at 8:05 a.m.


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