By Beau Yarbrough, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
and Doug Saunders, San Bernardino Sun
Posted: 02/25/17 – 5:29 PM PST |
RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> Psalms Zuniga spent his third birthday protesting outside West Valley Detention Center, where family members were demanding answers into his mother’s in-custody death a year ago.
Psalms and his little brother Exodus, 1, wore white T-shirts bearing a picture of their mother, Angela Zuniga, on the front and “I miss Mommy” written on the back.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department told Zuniga’s family that it would take three to four months before the results of an autopsy following her in-custody death would be ready. Twelve months later, the report is still not complete.
Zuniga’s mother is demanding answers.
“We want justice for my daughter,” Sandra Lugo said Saturday. “It’s going to be a year since she passed away.”
Lugo, 58, said her daughter returned to West Valley Detention Center three days after giving birth on Feb. 10, 2016. Even though she complained of dizziness and sharp pains, Zuniga told Lugo that she was forced to do chores. Complaining to jailhouse deputies led to Zuniga being placed in solitary confinement, according to Lugo.
On Feb. 27, 2016, Zuniga collapsed, but wasn’t taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton for four hours, Lugo said. Zuniga died on Feb. 28 at 5:41 a.m., 18 days after she gave birth to Exodus while in custody via C-section and had a hysterectomy. Zuniga, 33, was a San Bernardino resident and the mother of seven children.
“I just think they found something about why she passed away. They neglected to give her medical care,” Lugo said. “She told me that she thought the hospital left something inside of her, but we don’t know yet.”
According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, their policy is to have autopsies on people who die in their custody performed by the Coroner Division in Riverside County.
“Riverside pathologists determine cause of death,” San Bernardino County sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Lacy wrote in an email. “Using that information, we hold an in-house conference to determine manner.”
The conference to determine the manner of Zuniga’s death was scheduled for Nov. 23, but was postponed. It is yet to be rescheduled.
“We talked to the coroner’s office and they said we’re going to have to wait three to six more weeks, because of something they found that they’re not agreeing with” in the autopsy report, Lugo said.
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