Vista Detention Facility
The Vista Detention Facility. Photo by Chris Stone

Authorities Friday publicly identified a 63-year-old jail inmate who died of unknown causes in a hospital last week, 17 days after falling ill at Vista Detention Facility.

Earl Benjamin Smith of San Diego was pronounced dead by physicians Nov. 23, according to sheriff’s officials.

Smith was hospitalized Nov. 6, after suffering a medical emergency at the South Melrose Drive detention center, Lt. Thomas Seiver said.

A ruling on the cause of Smith’s death remains on hold pending completion of postmortem examinations, including laboratory tests, the lieutenant said.

Smith had been in county jail since April 2, following his arrest by the San Diego Police Department on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.