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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Attorney for SF Inmate Who Apparently Committed Suicide Requested Psychiatric Evaluation

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 5:50 PM

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The public defender who represented Alberto Carlos Petrolino in court on Monday was "struck by how distraught he was" and requested that he receive psychiatric attention, Tamara Aparton of the San Francisco Public Defender's Office said today. "He was crying," Aparton added.

Petrolino was found hanging in the shower on Tuesday, according to Aparton. The Sheriff's Department has called the death an "apparent suicide." 

Petrolino, who had been arrested on Saturday, was represented by public defender Elizabeth Camacho during a court appearance Monday. According to Aparton, Camacho asked for a 4011.6, which is a request to the court that a person in custody be taken to a facility for medical treatment or evaluation.

Aparton did not know whether Petrolino received any psychiatric care.

Mark Nicco, the legal counsel for the Sheriff's Department, would not comment on whether Petrolino received any psychiatric evaluation or care while he was in custody. He said the Sheriff's Department was not party to the 4011.6 request, which would go to the court. 

Petrolino was arrested by the California Highway Patrol on Saturday. According to a statement, CHP was alerted Saturday afternoon to be on the lookout for an individual heading to the Golden Gate Bridge to commit suicide. Aparton says Petrolino's family had called 911 out of concern that he was suicidal. 

CHP officers found Petrolino asleep and intoxicated on a bench near the Golden Gate Bridge. They detained him and requested an officer to conduct a mental health examination. Per CHP, Petrolino "made several statements indicating that he had no intention of trying to hurt himself." The officers "determined he was not an immediate danger to himself or to others." They placed him under arrest for an outstanding bench warrant and transported him to San Francisco County Jail. 

CHP says that the Sheriff's Department was informed of the "circumstances of the call" when he was booked into jail.

In general, if an arresting agency believes a person to be suicidal, the individual should be transported to a hospital, not to jail, Nicco said. If an inmate begins exhibiting suicidal behavior once in custody, they can be placed in a safety cell or psychiatric observation units. 

According to Aparton, Petrolino had been arrested earlier in July for violating a stay-away order. Petrolino was ordered to report to an alcohol treatment center. When he failed to appear, the bench warrant was issued. 

Petrolino is the third inmate to die in San Francisco jails this year. 

Petrolino's death is under investigation by the Sheriff's Department Internal Affairs Unit, SFPD, and the medical examiner's office. 

Aparton called the circumstances of Petrolino's death troubling, saying, "We are certainly going to be watching the investigation." 

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About The Author

Julia Carrie Wong

Bio:
Julia Carrie Wong's work has appeared in numerous local and national titles including 48hills, Salon, In These Times, The Nation, and The New Yorker.

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