Outrage Grows Over Alameda County Sheriff’s Lack of Accountability

For Immediate Release

July 11, 2019

Outrage Grows Over Alameda County Sheriff’s Lack of Accountability  

Press Contact: Ashley Chambers, ashley@ellabakercenter.org, 510-417-6071

OAKLAND--  As details surrounding the in-custody death of Dujuan Armstrong come to light and inhumane conditions inside Santa Rita jail continue to mount, Alameda County residents are calling on the Board of Supervisors to conduct an independent audit of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO). On Thursday, July 11 at 9 a.m., a coalition of activists addressed the Alameda County District Attorney’s office demanding the release of video footage of Dujuan’s death and his belongings to his family.

Dujuan Armstrong was asphyxiated while being restrained by deputies, an investigation report released June 24, 2019 by the District Attorney’s office confirms. This report contradicts statements from the Sheriff’s office that said Dujuan died from a drug overdose. Activists are calling for #JusticeforDujuan and have rallied around Dujuan’s mother Barbara Doss, who demanded answers from Sheriff Greg Ahern in January.

“My family has been through enough,” said Barbara on Thursday, speaking to a lawyer with the District Attorney’s office.

Over one year after Dujuan’s death, the District Attorney's office refused to release video footage to the family on Thursday. They then referred Dujuan's family to the Eden Township Substation where they could retrieve his belongings that day. After the family and staff of the Ella Baker Center went to the substation, the Sheriff's office attempted to keep Dujuan’s belongings and stated that they could not be released. Staff and family remained at the substation for two hours speaking with the DA's office, Sheriff's office, and the family’s attorney until the items were finally released. 

“Sheriff Ahern is managing a department that is out of control and puts our most vulnerable residents at risk. It’s time to hold the ACSO accountable and we’re calling for the release of video footage to Dujuan Armstrong’s family,” said Jose Bernal, Senior Organizer with the Ella Baker Center.

Alameda County Supervisors have continued to increase Sheriff Ahern's budget each year despite growing outrage and concern over the ACSO’s misconduct: 

  • Last year an Alameda County sheriff’s sergeant was charged with four felony counts of eavesdropping for illegally recording confidential conversations between juveniles and their attorneys.
  • This year, Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods accused sheriff's deputies at Santa Rita Jail of illegally recording attorney-client phone calls.
  • Alameda County has one of the highest rates of inmate deaths in California; 35 people have died in jail at Alameda County's Santa Rita Jail since 2014.
  • 29 civil suits have been filed by women alleging abuse and mistreatment while incarcerated in Santa Rita jail, including a pregnant mother who was forced to give birth alone in a dirty cell while guards ignored her screams.
  • Since 2015, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office has racked up more than $15.5 million in settlements and judgments in civil rights cases — more than any other law enforcement agency in the region.