A nurse at the Las Colinas Detention Center in Santee has been charged with manslaughter in the death of a 24-year-old inmate at the East County Jail, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
Danalee Pascua, 36, is charged in connection with the death of Elisa Serna on November 11, 2019 and faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Serna was transferred to the prison’s medical observation unit after reporting that she had dizziness and nausea, and then fell in the presence of the accused.
The prosecutor’s office alleges that after the fall, Pascua did not take Serna’s vital signs and did not move her. Instead, prosecutors say she left Serna on the ground in the cell until about an hour later, when she and her deputies returned to begin “futile rescue measures.”
In a statement, the sheriff’s department said Pascua was immediately assigned to a paid administrative assignment after Serna’s death and was barred from having any contact with patients.
On Thursday, she was suspended without pay, a decision “based on sustained findings of misconduct following an investigation by the sheriff’s internal affairs department,” the statement said, which said the department supports the prosecutor’s decision. district to indict Pascua.
The Sheriff’s Department also said it hopes “this development will bring some comfort to Ms. Serna’s family” and offered “our deepest condolences” to her family, friends and relatives.
County jail records on Thursday did not indicate Pascua was in custody, although she was expected in an El Cajon courtroom on November 18 on arraignment. The prosecutor’s office also said the investigation is ongoing and a review is ongoing to determine whether there are “other parties who may also be criminally responsible.”
In a statement announcing the charges, San Diego County Attorney Summer Stephan said, “There is nothing more sacred than the sanctity of life and when this life is in the care and protection of the government, it must be protected and provided with appropriate medical care. care. Evidence of Elisa Serna’s death in custody demonstrates criminal negligence that contributed to her death.
In a March 2020 press release regarding the death, the Sheriff’s Department said Serna died of drug addiction complications, with a contributing factor of early intrauterine pregnancy.
Serna’s death is also the subject of a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed against the county last year by Serna’s family, who alleged that prison staff were aware of Serna’s drug addiction and symptoms of subsequent withdrawal, but did not provide treatment. Although Serna passed out, had low blood pressure, vomited regularly, and displayed strange and inconsistent behavior, prison staff “ignored the obvious signs of medical distress” and “did not provide the appropriate medication as the condition Elisa was getting worse, “according to the complaint.