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DA Price announces progress in investigation into inmate death at Santa Rita Jail

Maurice Monk's body in cell wasn't found for at least three days
Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

The investigation into the 2021 death of a Santa Rita Jail inmate gained some traction last week with the announcement that the Alameda County Sheriff's Office will comply with a request for information on the case.

District Attorney Pamela Price announced Wednesday that Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez has agreed to provide information to investigators from Price's office regarding the death of Maurice Monk, who was found dead in his cell on Nov. 5, 2021. 

Monk had been arrested about a month earlier on suspicion of disorderly conduct for allegedly refusing to get off an Alameda-Contra Costa Transit bus and failing to appear on a misdemeanor warrant for another alleged altercation on a bus, according to prosecutors. 

By the time jail guards found Monk's body in his cell, it appeared that he had been dead for at least 72 hours.

Monk's family settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Alameda County for $7 million and currently has a civil case pending against Wellpath, the jail's medical provider, Price's office said.

"Mr. Monk, I am told, had a mental illness -- a diagnosis. He had medical issues. We all know that mental illness is not a crime, and it should not be a death sentence in Alameda County," Price said.  

A lawyer for Monk's family said he expects Price to file criminal charges once the investigation is complete. 

"We know multiple jail guards and medical staff from Wellpath -- which has a $250 million contract for medical services at the jail -- saw him lying face-down, unmoving, in a growing puddle of bodily fluids, for days. This goes beyond negligence. It was criminal," said attorney Adante Pointer.

A spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office said sheriff's officials will continue to cooperate with the district attorney's investigation.

"The Alameda County Sheriff's Office has and will continue to cooperate with the Alameda County District Attorney's Office on in-custody death investigations as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding that has been in place for several years," Lt. Tya Modeste said in an email Thursday. 

A spokesperson for Wellpath didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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