Dominique McCoy
Dominique McCoy. Courtesy Legacy Funeral & Cremation Care

The family of a man who was beaten to death by another inmate last year at the San Diego Central Jail has filed a federal lawsuit against the county and its sheriff and probation departments.

Relatives of 38-year-old Dominique McCoy alleges he was arrested due to a wrongfully issued warrant, then after the error was discovered, he was killed by another inmate hours before he was set to be released.

The lawsuit filed Friday states McCoy was arrested for a probation violation, though his probation was terminated nearly two months prior.

Despite the erroneous warrant, McCoy was arrested on Dec. 23 and remained behind bars for nearly a week before a judge ruled that the arrest was made in error and ordered his release, the lawsuit states.

Just before his expected release, the lawsuit states, another inmate, John Roman Medina, was placed in McCoy’s cell and killed him on Dec. 29, 2021. Medina, 18, is charged with McCoy’s murder and remains in custody.

The suit states that Medina, who had been recently arrested for felony animal abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and violence against a child, should not have been placed with a prisoner like McCoy, who did not have a history of violent offenses.

“Defendants did nothing to stop this violent attack and allowed Medina to murder McCoy hours before he was to be released after being arrested only on the basis of a warrant that the judge confirmed never should have been issued,” the lawsuit states.

The suit comes amid continued scrutiny facing the sheriff’s department over inmate deaths at its jail facilities.

According to the lawsuit, nearly 220 people have died at San Diego county jails between 2006 and 2022. A state Auditor’s Office report indicated the death rate at San Diego County jails was far higher than at other large California counties and that the situation “raises concerns about underlying systemic issues with the Sheriff’s Department’s policies and practices.”

City News Service contributed to this article.


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Ellen Bullock