A San Diego police officer is not criminally liable in the drug overdose death of a woman he transported to jail, who fell unconscious soon afterward and died at a hospital more than a week later, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
Aleah Jenkins, 24, died nine days following her arrest during a University City traffic stop due to “extremely high levels of methamphetamine in her system,” according to prosecutors.
Jenkins’ death prompted public protests coordinated by her family and community members, who claimed officers ignored the severity of her condition, delaying possibly life-saving medical care.
Jenkins was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over on Nov. 27 for expired registration in the 3700 block of La Jolla Village Drive, during which time officers discovered she had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for possession of methamphetamine, according to prosecutors.
While still at the scene of the traffic stop, Jenkins fell ill and vomited, though police said medical personnel were called off from responding because Jenkins claimed she was only suffering from an upset stomach due to being pregnant, which turned out to be untrue.
Jenkins passed out while being processed for booking at the jail and was transported to UCSD Medical Center’s critical care unit, where she died Dec. 6.
Prosecutors said Friday that Jenkins had “as much as 17 times a lethal dose” of methamphetamine in her blood, officially measured at 17 milligrams per liter. The official cause of her death was listed as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest while in custody and acute methamphetamine and fentanyl toxicity.
A D.A.’s office statement did not name the transporting officer, but San Diego police previously identified the officers involved in her arrest and transportation as Nicholas Casciola, Jason Taub, and Lawrence Durbin.
The District Attorney’s office review included a review of 90 minutes of body-worn camera footage, which can be viewed here.
— City News Service