Wife of Correctional Officer Responds to Verdict in $2.5 Million Wrongful Death Suit Against Humboldt County

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This opinion piece, written by the wife of a Humboldt County Correctional Officer, was first published on her Facebook page and is in part a response to this article in the North Coast Journal.

At the urging of friends, Kären Hammer whose husband was named in the suit, asked to have her response posted on Redheaded Blackbelt.

She wrote,

I’ve had a week to try to process this and still am a mess of mixed emotions. After reading this article (by the North Coast Journal and shared by Redheaded Blackbelt) and the comments, as well as the Times-Standard article and opinion piece from the step-father of the deceased, I realize that there are many perceptions. None of us were there and it’s easy to have 20/20 hindsight.

This case and verdict have many flaws. I have thoughts about the trial and how it was handled and the representation the correctional officers received. I hope they fight for an appeal and are successful. And, while I wasn’t going to post anything about this because it is so upsetting, I can’t pretend that it didn’t happen, or some of the reasons why this happened…

Not just because I am married to him, but I am going to defend my husband, who has been a correctional deputy for the past 19 years. I know how hard he works; 12.25 hour shifts, currently nights, sometimes as many as 11 days in a row, missing family dinners, kids’ activities and sports events, and holidays. It not only comes with the job, but because the staffing is so low, mandatory overtime has been in effect for the past two years with no end in sight. I know his integrity is of the highest level and how seriously he takes his job. Rarely, if ever, does he call in sick. Those few times he has, he’s been miserably sick, and he almost never uses a family sick day even when I’m miserably sick because he knows how much they need people to show up. He’s never late. He knows the rules and the policies and he follows them. I know how dedicated he is to his fellow co-workers. He acts as shop steward and is a representative for the union negotiation committee. He often takes work-related calls, emails, and texts during the hours he is home and not sleeping. These things take even more of his time, unpaid, and away from our family. We know and understand it goes with the job. We hate it, but we also love and admire him for the example he sets. I also know how he truly cares for other people and despite the hard outer shell he has developed from this thankless job, that doesn’t pay nearly what it should, and all of the truly horrific things that he and his fellow officers are witness to within the walls of the county jail, that he would never, ever, do anything less than what he is well-trained to do and would never allow any person to suffer in the ways described by the plaintiff’s attorneys and decedent’s stepfather. Nobody works that hard at a job unless they care.

A man, with mental illness and a history of drug abuse, took a serious amount of illegal drugs and ultimately died. Why isn’t this his own fault? His family was well aware that he suffered from mental illness and was a chronic drug abuser, and his family, through the jury’s decision, ultimately faults the county and three correctional deputies, with combined 40+ years’ experience, and wants there to be better training for all of Humboldt’s correctional deputies. But, to what degree? They aren’t medical doctors, they don’t diagnose. They aren’t EMT’s or paramedics. They weren’t the ones who witnessed his behavior on the streets and arrested him, or made the decision to transport him to jail rather than the hospital. Their job is limited and requires them to make judgments based on perceptions and interpretations of action and non-action. Mind you that they also don’t know what kind of drugs or anything else could possibly be in this person’s system. So, they did what the policy states: call contracted medical staff. Medical made a determination that the inmate did not require treatment.

The correctional deputies continued to do their job, following policy, which is to observe at 15 minute intervals. I won’t go in to detail about the numerous things they observed the inmate physically doing, things most of us would find bizarre, but things that experienced correctional deputies see daily. Not to say that it makes bizarre activities “normal” but that this job requires making judgments. Judgments are just that – perceptions, and they can vary from person to person. So far, all the observations, judgments, and perceptions, based on training, years of experience and common sense, between everyone involved, were in agreement; the inmate was high, but otherwise fine. Until, one of Tim’s turns to make an observation when he noted the inmate was not moving. Tim called for help. Within minutes the inmate was transported to the hospital and despite efforts, he died as a result of heart failure due to drug toxicity.

The plaintiff’s attorney argued that the decedent was denied medical care by the correctional officers failing to recognize signs of distress, citing video footage from the jail. Their perceptions from watching the video (no audio), not from being there.

This is truly sad, for a lot of reasons. Besides the obvious, that a family has lost their son to drug abuse, (although I would argue they lost him a long time ago) there is not one mention in any of the articles or comments about how difficult this must have been for Tim or any of the other correctional deputies. Not one mention about the efforts made to save the inmate at the hospital and how upsetting this could be for the hospital staff to witness. Despite some of the atrocities our law enforcement and professional medical providers see, a death is something you never forget.

Now, I don’t know if the family ever tried to get their relative help, but the fact that the mother of the decedent didn’t visit him even one time during any of his 40+ incarcerations at the jail speaks volumes about how she washed her hands of him and handed him off to Humboldt when she and her husband moved away 12 years ago. That’s not to say that she didn’t love or care about him. I can even be empathetic that it must have been hard for her to watch her son live his life like that and perhaps feel so hopeless that there is nothing you can do to help. Regardless, he became one of Humboldt’s problems. You and I probably saw him downtown and crossed the street to avoid him. Or we parked our car somewhere else to shield our children from him. Or maybe someone recorded him and his antics to post on the “Only in Humboldt” Facebook page. It’s become normal for Humboldt, particularly Eureka. Did any of us reach out to help him? If no, why not? I can come up with a lot of reasons why.

There are some perceptions that none of us can deny. The drug problem in Humboldt is a problem. The mental illness problems in Humboldt are a problem. Sempervirens is short on beds and staff. They are known to advise law enforcement about soon-to-be-released mental patients, non-compliant on medications and other issues, who, once released, should be picked up and transported to the jail. The jail has become a babysitter for the mentally ill and repeat criminals, a house for felons who should be in prison, a temporary shelter for drunks and homeless who commit acts just big enough to come in out of the rain, want a free meal or healthcare, then add in a sprinkling of other reasons for incarceration for others and you have the full inmate population of approximately 400 out of a maximum capacity of about 426. Now multiply these people by alcoholism and drug abuse, and a host of other ailments, add in the recent assaults on officers, feces and urine being thrown at them, and many other situations too numerous to list and too vulgar for this post, and literally, you have the biggest shit-show in the county.

What a horrible, miserable job it must be to be a correctional deputy. When your husband comes home and tells you that he found an inmate dead or had to help cut someone down from trying to hang themselves, or says, “Don’t touch my uniform or boots – you don’t want to know what is on them” it sure makes you rethink about asking how their day was. Not because you don’t care, but because you don’t want them to re-live it.

So, does it matter when and where he died? I guess it depends on your perception. He could have died on the streets as some drug abusers do. Whose fault would that be? He could have died while in transport to the jail, or even to the hospital. Who would we blame then? No matter what any of our involvement, or lack of, seeing someone on drugs, or watching them die from drugs, isn’t, and should never be, normal.

The jail is hiring. Starting pay is a little over $16/hour. Now, who wants a job?

Kären Hammer

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101 comments

  • Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P.

    Meh…..

    Crying over what a jury of non union cops, but regular people found looking at the evidence makes it seem like a child throwing a tantrum.

    Get over it, the justice system is never wrong.

    Lucky they aren’t facing manslaughter like regular people would.

    Grow up.

    • [edit] Or better yet go apply for the job bet you can’t do it either…

      • I did and do but after so many years of experience something’s your use to see you know the signs..period truth be told your surpose to physically look in there not just look at 📷…so Ms lady your talking about what ur husband went through wether he was a drug head or not does not mean you lock him up and just neglect him cause of it

      • So get someone who can

    • For once I agree. The system sucks for everyone. Get used to it. You really should BE used to it, if you have been dealing with it for 19 years.
      Be glad YOU don’t have to pay.

    • “A jury of …..regular people.” You mean people not smart enough to even get out of jury duty. 😂

    • Chump, you picked your name. we gotta give you points for accuracy. now go to your corner.

      This is a really serious issue in our community.

      Mrs. Hammer, I don’t know what happened that day, or your husband. I thank him for his service to us all.

      I just know that the training of staff at the jail and of mental health staff (two separate matters i understand) are woefully inadequate.

      otherwise, mr bullock would not be in prison for the rest of his life, and a well-loved priest would not have died horrifically.

      something must change so that people stop dieing needlessly. I do not want the employees to take the fall for systemic issues. I do want the system to make significant changes in the way inmates and patients of semper virens are assessed. Not everyone who is erratic is drunk.

      thank you for writing to us. thank you for helping us see the inside perspective.

    • Syop trying to make your husband out to be the perfect officer we all know how most of those correction officers treat people in jail so please with the my husband is the best and all that bs are you there when he is at work? No so how do you really know let’s be honest it’s like the cops wife who says my husband is the best till he hets c caught doing something messed up so save us the pity party

      • Sad, 2.5 mil won't help tho

        Dude smoked or shot up enough meth to kill himself. Nobody elses fault. 2.5 million is enough for the County to pave like a 1/4 mile of road…(but only in front of Tom Matson’s house)

        • Miss, Hammer , I would like too Thank you and your family for their service. You are absolutely right about everything that is said in this post .

          Sincerely

          Most of the public

      • If you don’t know these people you shouldn’t generalize.

      • You know, not all correctional officers area crap. My soon was in the Humboldt County jail several times and found that when he acted like a human he got treated like one, if he acted like an ass he got treated like one. Think about that before you throw stones.

    • “The justice system is never wrong” ????
      What country are you living in? As a teacher and therapist, I have seen many times where justice was NOT SERVED AND made major mistakes. Just look at all the wrongful incarcerations over the years.
      I do not know Ms. Hammer, but I am in agreement with her well written letter.
      MY HEART GOES OUT TO HER AND HER FAMILY!!!!

      • You speak for a lot of people. Thanks for recognizing Ms Hammer’s risk in speaking, subject to the ridicule and negative comments from those that bring so much negativity to our county. Free speech? Not encouraged much anymore.

    • Wow, “thebjustice system is never wrong”? What world do you live in? You are probably [edit] think OJ Simpson was innocent.

    • “Meh”? Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P., In responding to your comment all I have to say is: What an utter and complete moron you must be. Exactly what, in what was described, comes close to anything that “regular people” ever have to deal with? Also, Really? The Justice System is never wrong? Again, What an utter and complete moron you must be. The “Justice System” is wrong on a regular basis, especially in the 9th district which can boast to have the most overturned verdicts of all the districts. Mrs. Hammer, my heart goes out to you and to your husband. The real victims in this situation are those Officers who consistently have to deal with drug users and criminals who regularly come to jail. These officers do so, day in and day out, usually without concern or appreciation by the “regular people”. Perhaps the real trial should have been for the cold and uncaring mother who abandoned him here. Or, maybe the blame should be laid at the feet of the drug dealers. Finally, the last and unfortunate blame should be directed to the one who ingested 5 times the lethal amount of methamphetamine. Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P., stay where you are, stick your head in the sand as to the real world, but remember, it’s people like you who dishonor and spit upon law enforcement who cause fewer and fewer people to even consider a career in law enforcement. It is you, and people like you Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P., who degrade the pool of people on the side of right and integrity so much so that we soon may feel the loss of safety and freedom to the lawless only because you, and people like you, have twisted what is right and what is wrong into an ugly mess in which no one will want to ever risk their own life, livelihood and family by working in law enforcement. Kudos to you “Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P.” for being such a willing and self described CHUMP. Mr. Hammer, thank you for your service and sacrifice. You are appreciated and, for now at least, for every CHUMP there are three non-moron’s who really appreciate and care about the job you do.

    • Have you been indulging in “drugs ” really the justice system never wrong I am sad for the officers who try and do the right thing. We should say thank you instead of cussing them out

  • if you do meth you will die, that’s your own fault. When you decide to be a correctional officer you will see some shit too comes with the job. There’s always barber college. If you want sympathy look in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.

    • If you are alive you will die. And that is no ones fault, it just is what it is.

      • and?? Thanks for the brilliant comeback Einstein, you do meth you are basically playing Russian roulette and its your own friggin fault when you od and die, no one else should be held responsible. Do you not agree?

  • Well written and thought provoking. What a tragedy all the way around. What a travesty to waste taxpayer money on a trial.

    • Agreed, thanks Karen!!!! I appreciate your husband’s dedication. Most of the negative comments are from people that have been “wronged”, unable to shoulder the responsibility of their life choices.

  • Maybe they need to find the asshole who gave him the drugs and sue him for the 2mill. Some douchebag voluntarily takes drugs into his body and then drops dead, and the family sues the very people who do their job and attempt to save him. Yep, we’re in California. Why can’t a family just accept the fact that their loved one followed the wrong path and paid for it with his life. I have family on the same path, and no matter how much help the receive in the form of rehab, they keep going back to what they know. Am I going to blame anyone else when my family members lose their life because of this garbage? Absolutely not!!! I will blame the idiot who didn’t say “NO” years ago.

  • Nicely written Karen.

  • Thank you for sharing your perception. Well put.

  • It ain't for the money.......................if it was you would be an attorney!

    Hammer time!!! There are only one winner and lots of losers. The winner is the attorney who is laughing all the way to the bank. The losers are the victim and the CO’s. No winner there. CO’s are like bouncers at a bar. Keeping peace while stupid people are over drinking and acting out. The Jails are crowded with people who made stupid choices. Like drunks who drive. It is all about attitudes. Bad attitudes. CO’s are expected to keep the peace. You can be sure if a CO loses his life in the line of duty the family of the CO cannot sue the county for endangering the CO’s life. At best the family collects a small life insurance policy. Have a poor economic life children. Your daddy doesn’t have an income. And the guy who killed your daddy will spend a long time in prison. Yeah, that will pay the mortgage and put food on the table. Why would anyone want to be a Correctional Officer? Stupid choice???

  • Just my viewpoint

    Yea I know people will say shit back and that’s ok, but my 2 cents as some who has spent a year of my short 30 plus years behind bars in a few county jail, all turn keys are assholes.and I was never a problem while in there, just doing my time and still, not one treats any inmate with dignity, yet expect ll this respect for the “job” they do. Daycare.

    • Ain’t that the truth

    • Psycho Disturbing Letter of Hatred and Prejudice

      Jail staff should all be charged with negligent homicide and sent to prison, they laughed as they refused this man help! There is more to this story guaranteed because we all know these corrupt jail guards all have dirt on each other and wash each other’s backs…. they murdered this man and are still free to murder more brothers sisters sons and daughters. Shame shame shame, and to think of all the favors and drugs these jail guards are responsible for letting slide under the jail door. Hope they all get indictments for negligent homicide!

      • You sound bitter. Poor baby have a difficult time while under lock? I’m sure you were innocent and those mean officers didn’t treat you with the hospitality you deserved……..Oh my. Take a flying f..k dipshit, no one is there for a merit badge.

      • [edit]Maybe next time you get arrest your stay will be better.

    • What crime warrants respectability?

    • Dignity and Respect are not Constitutional Rights. You must earn them.

      Being behind bars is not a qualifier.

      • LOL!

        “By the way Sir, You look very Dignified in that orange jump-suit! Oh, and I totally Respect your choice of the top bunk…”

  • In thinking we the people of Humboldt county have been sticking our collective head’s in the sand on this whole issue ! I don’t have answers, but I guarantee I would not wish the job of jail house guard on anyone ! ! ! PLEASE GOD HELP THEM !

  • Thank you for taking the time to write that. It is clear your whole family suffers from a job that should not have to be done. All the best to you and your husband. None of us should just “get used to it” at the price of our humanity.

  • Double speak outside of cheek

    Excellent Mrs. Hammer. Ridiculous family would receive money for something their son did to himself. If the jail medical staff cleared him wouldn’t it be CFMG’s fault? My thoughts go out to your husband and the rest of the CD’s who have to deal with this crap day in and day out. It is a thankless, unappreciated job

  • Karen Hammer, you are a quality individual who I know personally and respect greatly. Your thoughtful and informed analysis means a great deal to those of us who care for our community. Thank your husband for me personally for everything he does to help our community and also I thank you.

  • fuckwalterwhite.com

    Geez. Making this city poorer won’t help.
    Druggies OD,just like cats scratch. Not always,but nobody is really surprised when they do. I see people on corners all day here,acting straight up NUTS! I’m not gonna be shocked when I hear they OD’d.
    He might have done some major damage to someone if he wasn’t arrested.
    Would Andy Taylor be liable if old Otis didn’t wake up one day?
    I’d love to see what all the city-suit winners do with their bereavement funds.Non-profits or jet-skis?
    I’m appalled that “we” are now responsible for his mistake.

  • I cannot believe that mother sued and won. Her son was a loser!! She should be paying the jail for having to deal with him. And seriously jury…..really……this is wrong.
    My heart goes out to our law enforcement. Thank you guys for all you do.

  • Ultimately, this man should have been cleared at the hospital. The police should be taking everyone who is drunk or exibiting signs of any intoxication to the hospital to be cleared in order to put the liability on medical professionals. It also might deter the police from constantly arresting drunks just to clear the bushes of debris. I knew borges. I worked at the jail for over 9 years. He came in high on meth on a regular basis. This isn’t an isolated incident. People come in either drunk, high on meth and sweaty, or in the process of nodding out while they sit in processing. The sad truth is, there’s simply no accountability and definitely no sense of personal responsibility. He had a mental illness. So? That justifies him to purchase illegal drugs and take them at lethal doses? Then, when the police arrest him because he’s a danger to himself or others, and take him to jail, medical staff is supposed to take on the liability… or jail staff? If we turned away every meth user because he was exibiting signs of illegal substance abuse, there would be a very busy hospital full of tweekers, taking up hospital staff time where it could be better spent on regular law abiding citizens with legitimate ailments. I also know the officers associated with the case and know them to be stand up people who wouldn’t ever want anyone to perish in custody. Karen talked about her husband taking calls even while he was home and I can attest to this. I’ve called him with complaints because he was my union steward, and he’s answered every time and listened to me. He’s even made a house call to help me fix my dishwasher when it was leaking under the kitchen subfloor… he’s a good man who works hard and has people best interests at heart. He doesn’t judge the people who come to jail and treats people fairly. Honestly, I think we all have opinions of how things should have gone, but to hold correctional staff responsible for borges’ death is a shame. None of those officers intended for borges to die in custody and it takes a big toll on a person when that happens. I’ve been there for a few in custody deaths and quite a few attempts. It really is quite a stressful job, now we have to worry about being held accountable when someone takes 5 times the lethal dose of meth unbeknownst to anyone at the jail, and dies in a sobering cell within the 15 minutes between cell checks. And no, mom never came to visit her son, he never talked about family during the years I talked to him, and he didn’t really care about coming to jail… the harsh truth is, he was an addict who took way too much meth one day and died of excited delirium. Now, the family gets paid big and cash in on their sons irresponsible lifestyle. There is an underlying issue here also, mental health services. Mental health staff new him well, he never took mental health medication even though he knew he needed to, society gets to judge from the outside looking in, but I wonder how peoples opinions would change after just a little experience inside the jail doing that job. This whole situation is sad, but I believe it’s nobody’s fault but daren’s.

    • Good comment. Right on topic. Yes, officers should get them medically cleared. Even alcohol poisoning can kill. I can’t believe this loser’s family gets the money. Was his drug-fueled life worth $2.5 million to his family? NO. But his death is.

  • No doubt the job as a correctional officer is tough. What I do see as inappropriate is the correctional officers spouse rendering an opinion as if SHE was there. Not to mention the confidentiality of the job in which one’s spouse should have enough restraint to keep her opinion and knowledge of confidential matters to a tight and trusted circle. Her husband was fully indemnified by the County and paid to attend trial. He still has his job. Clearly wife does not understand such benefits are not awarded to non-union or private sector employees. Despite some commonly known, and valid, viewpoints made, Mrs. Hammer comes across as self-serving. Insulting the deceased’s mother shows a lack of character. Be grateful for your husband’s chosen career because if he worked in the private sector he would lose his job for breaching confidentiality AND his inability to keep his spouse from crossing appropriate boundaries and publicly speaking about his employment.

    • Double speak outside of cheek

      Spoken by someone who has no clue. I will stop there. Drama queen you are extra special.

      • Marilynne Walpole

        The name Dramaqueen says it all.. fabulous letter & well thought out. Nowhere did I see Karen say her husband was perfect, people need to quit judging. As for giving her opinion, we have freedom of speech. It’s funny when people don’t agree, they get pissy &; judgemental. While she may not have been there I’m sure she was at the trial where this information would be presented so it is no longer confidential. Unless someone is in the situation no one else truly gets it. It is sad that people are criticizing not just for this situation but also for the choice of job, really? Someone has to do it. I also did not hear Karen ask for pity for anyone, she was sharing another perspective! I worked in the mental health field at Napa State Hospital, a very high number of our clients were from Humboldt, there is a larger number of people here with co-occurring disorders, and as we know not enough facilities to handle it. In my humble opinion, it’s easy to judge & pick when we are not involved. Our society unfortunately focuses on the negative. Remember the recent story of the 2 inmates attacking the guard? Yes, they choose to do this job, but they do not choose to be attacked, physically or with other ‘things.’ Yes, someone unfortunately died, I am trained in the medical field, the officers are not, even with training you can see & understand certain behaviors, but there are never 2 exact cases it doesn’t happen. AND, when someone is on drugs, they can have superhuman strength & can be unpredictable. I know this from first-hand experience. Being locked up is to protect all involved, whether you believe it or not. Quit judging & if the system is something you feel strongly about needing change, then quit complaining & be part of a solution!!! People oftentimes fail to look at & acknowledge what their part is in a situation. People do not choose to be addicts/alcoholics it is a disease whether you personally believe it or not, it is sad & wrong that this mans family is financially profiting from his death & his choices. I agree there are no winners here 😰

    • Drama queen,
      Maybe you need to get a job at the jail or have a family member work there and then see how you feel. Let it create some real drama for you.

    • Drama queen you hit the nail on the head.

    • Dramaqueen– I would like to point out just one MAJOR flaw in the rationalization you used in your post… police reports, criminal charges, details of court proceedings and sentences, plea bargains, prior arrests, amounts of any fines and whether they are paid or unpaid, and warrant status information… ALL ARE CLASSIFIED AS PUBLIC RECORDS. They are available to ANYONE who wants to request them. Therefore, “breaching confidentiality” does not come into play when the information provided is a matter of public record. A good thing to know before accusing someone of job-related misconduct OR of violating confidentiality protocols.

  • Your husband is a brutal murderer and should be locked behind bars himself.

  • I guess people truly are disposable in Humboldt County. And if you have a mental illness or substance abuse problem you are lower than the rats that inhabit downtown. Victim blaming is never pretty.
    I’ve worked in the jail and have seen the issues there. I know this CO’s work hard (unless they are watching you get on an elevator with a cup of coffee and close the doors on you spilling salting hot coffee down your front, yeah they got a big chuckle out of that we could hear them laughing. I guess is was a i iris toon for a newbie). They are under a ton of stress and no, shouldn’t have been sued. This is a lose-lose situation. Disparaging the deceased’s mother was over the line. Guess you are lucky that your family hasn’t been touched by the scourge off this disease. I pray to God you never have to…

    Those CO’s work hard and are massively underpaid. Mistakes were made and that’s because they aren’t robots but human beings…

  • Again, he took five times the lethal dose of Meth, he was dead before they even arrested him, he just hadn’t stopped breathing yet. His fault. Appeal to a higher Court.

  • I am sure this is comeing out of my taxes somehow.mother of this person .you are wrong in sueing,judge and jury you were wrong in letting this verdict happen this way,this money could have helped eureka in so many ways,this person Od’d all by him self,not the correctional officers fault,family members should not profit from this.unjust law suits make me angry ughh.and that all i have to say about that.

  • Had a good friend become a CO at the jail about 5 years ago. He was there about 2 weeks and quit. Between supervisors watching drugs go through there and doing nothing, looking up other guys butts for drugs daily and having him and his family threatened daily; he called it quits. 1/2 of the people in there should be in a prison. City and county jails are not prepared, equipped or physically built to house the violent criminals that our state requires. Our prisons need to expand so local jails can stop the revolving door for local minor offense criminals.

  • Most of us show up to work on time and work hard and are underpaid. That doesn’t have anything to do with what happened regarding the death. You write about your husband only and not about the inmates nor the system. True integrity would call out the terrible conditions, lack of treatment options etc. Maybe your husband works those hours because he is a workaholic or needs to supply his family with too much stuff or whatever…it doesn’t make him a good man nor a martyr. The BTK killer had a job he took quite seriously and cared about too.
    You say “They lost him a long time ago” regarding the son on drugs. HE WAS NOT A WALKING DEAD ZOMBIE on some stupid tv show he was a person and you saying he was lost already just speaks to the total disregard for human life and those suffering….might as well just kill them as they are already dead, eh?

    • Yes, she talked about her husband! Away from his family, school plays, anniversaries, sports, awards night, birthdays, parent/teacher conference. Maybe not the work alcoholic as you say, just a real man, trying to make ends meet, and give his family what he can on their income!

    • Why don’t you talk to anyone working in a rehab about the rates or recidivism, and ultimately death, that they see of addicts going through their programs. People who have an active desire to quit. This guy showed no signs of having an active desire to do anything but continue using. It is not cruel or an unfair thought to see him as “already lost”. Its not a leap of thought that he would end up dead because he chose to continue to using.

  • The bottom line jail is overwhelmed. they need to add another 4 story’s up ,and 4 st orys underground .then the jail might be big enough

  • I wish Ernie branscomb would comment again he had a great many comments that made alot of since.

  • I would blame the medical staff that is a joke there

  • @Dramaqueen
    You have no clue what your talking about…..”breaching confidentiality AND his inability to keep his spouse from crossing appropriate boundaries and publicly speaking about his employment.” It is common practice for husband and wife to talk about their day and EVERYBODY knows what happens in the jail, recently when two inmate jumped a CO the video was blasted on social media and the under-sheriff had a press conference telling every detail. Your name is correct….you are nothing but a drama queen. Mrs. Hammer your letter was very well written and even had caring words for the drug addict’s family. They (the druggie whom overdosed’s family) hadn’t been to visit him in any of his 40 plus incarcerations obviously did not care enough about him to even try getting him help, they ONLY stepped in when they saw a opportunity to cash in on his death!!!! PLAIN and SIMPLE. And for the jury on this case I am in complete disbelief. I never understood how in the world there could be 12 people that could agree to find Casey Anthony innocent and now I am again wondering how in the hell another 12 people from Humboldt County could see fit to award this family anything let alone 2.5 million because their son was an addict whom killed himself. Good God What Is This World Coming To??? Mrs. Hammer, ignore all the trolls on here trying to call you out, your letter was SPOT ON!! YOU GO GIRL

  • I’m really surprised and saddened by some of these comments. I would like to say that regardless of content, or whether I agree or disagree with the perception of the writer, I felt the letter was very well written, descriptive and did give insight into the persepective of the CO and his families struggles and sacrifices.

    In full disclosure, I have not read any of the articles or stories on this prior to this letter. I don’t have any idea if the COs lacked training or followed protocol. However, it sounds like two facts are not disputed; this man was arrested by law enforcement, and he had willingly ingested a lethal amount of meth. Where is the personal responsibility? I try and take into consideration when I make decisions, that I can not control the outcome or how other people will act or react. This man had two very simple choices that could have prevented his death. He could have not committed crimes that got him arrested where he did not have the ability or free access to take himself to the hospital (although who knows if he would seek help), and most importantly, he could have not taken the drugs. I don’t think it’s any secret that illegal drugs are not regulated and anything can be cut with them causing a variety of health problems and OD resulting in death. I’m sure this man with his history, knew this was a possibility.

    I’m not a heartless person who thinks addicts shouldn’t be saved, or services shouldn’t be offered, I believe most people are good people deep down and have something positive to offer the world. I come from a background of drug addiction and have spent my share of days in jail, but we all have choices, and we all know the consequences. Most addicts have been court mandated to a NA meeting at some point in their lives, they are very clear what’s coming if you continue to use drugs, jails, institutions and death. As sad as it is for his family, for himself and for the community, that drug addiction took hold of this mans life, it happened, and he continued on the path. He may have been smart, funny, maybe he had a good heart and was kind maybe he was supposed to do something amazing… but all that was masked by drug addiction. The COs didn’t fail to protect this man, they didn’t give him the drugs, force him to take a lethal amount, they didn’t even allow him to bring them into the jail and take them while in custody. He made the choices before getting to jail himself and paid the ultimate price for his drug addiction. Sad, yes… but he is the person responsible for his death. Not anyone else. Im sure if his mother could have saved him and could have stopped him, she would have, but in the same way she couldn’t keep him from continuing his drug use, the COs certainly weren’t able to stop him from making those choices either.

  • Corrections Officers Killed Him end of story

    Your husband and the corrections officers he works with killed this man, whether on meth or not, they refused to get the man medical attention when he needed it… end of story! Your own prejudice most likely mirrors your husbands prejudice against this “drug addict” as you said “he was already dead”…. does this offer something to the judge and jury we don’t know, could you being the manslaughter suspects wife who killed this man and refused him medical attention have more information which you could offer to the judge which could be hindering the truth in this manslaughter-homicide? Hummm, sounds pretty fishy! Or maybe, your husband and the other turn keys didn’t offer him medical attention even though he pleaded with his life because like your self, they too were prejudiced against “drug addicts”… your hatred of “drug addicts” shines in your letter, very disturbing. Your husband is and was responsible for this manslaughter and should be held criminally liable! His judgement day in court is coming!

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      So the death of this inmate had NOTHING to do with his own demise by ingesting a lethal dose of methamphetamine? Your comments reflect the prevailing attitude that nobody is responsible for their behavior except the police who are even responsible for others’ dangerous behavior.

      What if the crazed and self-medicated Gary Bullock, killer of Fr. freed, had died of a sudden heart-attack while in custody? Where does the BS end?

      I feel sorry for the police specifically and society in general when a majority of people completely disavow any responsibility for the consequences of personal choices.

    • The guy killed himself. Since when is an o.d. someone else’s fault? Hopefully, an appeal will overturn this.

  • Psycho Disturbing Letter of Hatred and Prejudice

    They let him die because he was a “drug addict”. That’s why they denied him medical attention! Your letter reads of prejudice and hatred! Maybe, your husband and the other turn keys didn’t offer him medical attention even though he pleaded with his life because like your self, they too were prejudiced against “drug addicts”… your hatred of “drug addicts” shines in your letter, very disturbing. Your husband is and was responsible for this manslaughter and should be held criminally liable! His judgement day in court is coming

  • As a parent, you can do and teach. When your child is an adult, you can still TRY and do all to teach. We all make mistakes, some worse than others. Not one person on this Earth is better than another! Child is now an adult, don’t blame the parent! We all know right from wrong. It’s the individuals choice, I’ve made bad choices, not going to blame my family! (Parents)It was my choice, (I knew better and so did family. Refused to listen to them). You can love family and they can love you, but take responsibility for your own damn self! Grow the fuck up people! I have! Mrs Hammer, God bless you and your family. I have family that have been on both sides of the law, either way, it’s not easy! Takes a real woman to do what you’ve done! You have my respect! Thank you for telling the other side (CO) and the wife of CO side. ❤️

  • The officers in this case , are good officers. They have had many years experience and dealing with the ins and outs. I can say that the jail is so under staffed to where it it’s dangerous , not only for the officers but inmates . I was a 16 year co there. I could spill a huge bag of beans on so many things. What I will say , is no officer wants anyone to die on their watch. Ever.

  • When you said as far as your concerned he was lost a long time ago you lost me. That kind of shows maybe the attitude that gets officers in situations like this. They feel the inmate is already lost and doing this to himself so why call an ambulance? Some would say after the medical checked him the blame should be on them but his condition could deteriate after that, which it obviously did, which is why they have to check every 15 minutes. The video, even without audio must have been pretty damning. The jury must have thought if they saw something like that they would call medical. Of course, you admitted your husband has been pretty desensitized from 19 years of seeing people like him and being underpaid. Your husband was not held criminally responsible nor did he lose his job. It basically came down to he needs more training. That’s not so bad. You have a good point he is not a medically trained doctor or RN, but the video must show this guys need was obvious. Maybe your husband is desensitized and needs more training. Or maybe he needs a new job, you sound like he does. It sucks the county will lose money to this but in our society that is the only known way to get change usually. I would like to add that if every intoxicated person had to go to the hospital first it would overwhelm our understaffed hospitals. We need more hospitals or bigger ones with more staff. It all costs money. The drug problem is really becoming a burden on tax payers. Our taxes pay Congress which shouuld be making health care more affordable and put the pharma companies in check that are helping to create this drug addiction epidemic that is a problem everywhere in the country. Or they should make pharma pay for all the medical and rehab needs of all these addicts, Lord knows they have made enough money helping create this problem in their greed. Anyway, my thoughts.

  • When those same federal jurors wonder why their fucking are roads are shit, why they get no civic services, why there are never any deputies patrolling their area, and why their government is so fucking broke all the time I hope they remember the ridiculous dollar amount they awarded.

    $2.5 million for what, the lost wages of a homeless addict? The grief counselor for the mother who abandoned her addict son 12 years ago? Please. That jury needs to justify and account for every dollar they decide to award, not just pick some arbitrary fucking number.

    His mother should not have had grounds to file a lawsuit. She was a stranger to him and should never had been the controller of his worthless estate.

  • There must have been something on that film that made thme award that much money so please stop with the b my husband is such a good man shit when officers get around one another they change its the us against them mentally just like with cops if it’s so bad tell uour husband yo find a new job and listen most county jails are cake jobs it’s babysitting if it was so bad I’m sure he wouldn’t be there for 19 years so save us the boo hoo you weren’t there so you don’t really know do you?

  • Dear Mrs. Hammer I understand you and your husbands situation but he picked his job not I. I DO NOT CARE ABOUT THIS YOUNG MANS MENTAL ILLNESS OR DRUG ADDICTION! What I do care about is procedure when the humboldt county takes a person in custody. They didn’t follow procedure and someone lost their life..
    Who’s to pay? The humboldt county Sheriffs dept., you Mrs. Hammer! That’s the responsibility you take when you take the job. This goes for ALL HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFFS. There is a responsibility here and if you violate the law you will be held accountable in court…..Its the only way to hold you all accountable!! Maybe next time your husband will not let the normality of his job win over. Each person is too be put threw a battery of questions, and if that were to happen that day, this young man would be alive and you wouldn’t be trying to justify him NOT DOING HIS JOB~ SHAME ON YOU FOR TRYING TO SHAME HIS MOTHER! I hope none of your children end up with mental illness or drug addiction problems. You are a typical cops wife. BLAME THE FAMILY! BLAME ANYONE BUT THE PERSON THAT DIDNT DO THEIR JOB RIGHT~

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      BLAME THE POLICE! BLAME SOCIETY! Blame everybody and everything else except a crappy family life, bad genetics, bad luck, AND VERY BAD CHOICES. Why take responsibility for yourself and your family when you can blame others?

  • Sue this guys mom , since she has 2.5 million , isn’t she responsible for her son’s actions or she can just sue on his behalf, if he was mentally ill ,why wasn’t she taking care of him, because it’s easier to ignore him , and let us taxpayers support him, yep another fine parent, step up to the plate mom ,take some responsibility instead of being more of a burden on us taxpayers, as for Mr. Hammer , I met him once after being arrested,he treated me with respect and courtesy seemed like a stand up good guy, definitely better than I expected

  • I don’t know your husband, I do know other staff inside of the jail. Mostly young, dumb, kids acting like the high school bully. If your husband was the kind, hard-working, honest, good-character type, he wouldn’t have lasted a month at Humboldt County Correctional. They just don’t have that there. Some jails, some places, do here and there, however rare it may be. Humboldt county is not one of those places. The drugs are easier to score inside of those walls than out. Some are brought in by inmates and visiters. Most are brought in by guards. Guards are no different than the prisoners in most jails/ prisons. They spend all of there waking hours with prisoners, in prisons, it’s hard to expect anything different.

  • So the ones responsible ” our supervisors”
    Are costing us millions, the people want the respinsible parties laid off immediatetly!

  • I think in this case the arresting officer should have taken the prisoner to the hospital and not the jail. What if the jail started refusing to take the people that are high? Aren’t the arresting officers trained in this type of situation? I don’t think the family should benefit from their son’s addiction if they moved and left him here for the county to take care of.

    My son was a correctional officer for Humboldt County quite a few years ago, before the state unloaded all prisoners and mentally ill on the jails and he still dealt with the drug addicts but back then it was mostly heroin and he told us of one person that had sores so deep they packed a roll of gauze into it and yes the correctional officers had to do this. Even back then the officers had mandatory overtime and low pay. I worked in an office and made more money than correctional officers and I always wondered why they were not paid more for what they had to do. Maybe the board of supervisors could give the correctional officers some of the pay raise they gave themselves and then they would not have to work as many hours and they turnover would not be as high and they would have more officers to check on the prisoners.

  • The letter was eloquent, well written, with insights that outsiders can learn from. But will they?

    HSU pushes collectivism/socialism/free healthcare/free colledge, but how many of their students are working towards a career that helps the mentally ill, the drug addicts, the homeless, on their own dime and time? Equality requires rolling up your sleeves and getting in there, living in the same conditions, the same pay, the same hopelessness doesn’t it? Yes, it does. Where are they?

    City and county zoning pushes zoning for all their taxable slaves. Why aren’t they zoning for their non taxable refuse? Why isn’t there a zoned area for those who need a place to shelter, even if they have to bring their own cardboard? Where are the college students? Why aren’t they protesting for a zoned area for the refuse college drop outs who discovered there are no careers in gender bending?

    Police and correctional officers, know it’s not their job to babysit those who defile their own lives. That’s their right to defile their own lives. They are not hired to babysit. They are there to secure the rights of every individual. You want to screw yourself over, then they’ll gladly take you over to the zoned area called Shanty Town. You want to straighten up and become a citizen again, then they’ll haul you over to Betty’s place or to the bus station. You want to hurt others with your actions? Then you’re going behind bars.

    Come on HSU students, put your money where your mouth is. Get out there and learn some medical degrees, then go to work in Shanty town for free room and board. Capitalism sucks, remember? BYOC. (bring your own cardboard).

  • So she did get the 2.5mil? That’s all kinds of fucked up

  • OMGosh Kären Hammer… Everything you wrote was so true and beautifully spoken. Although this is an unfortunate situation for all those involved involved… I truly believe something good can and will come out of it! I’d also like to encourage others, that think they may want to “fix” this so called problem or think they may have a solution, to please give it a try. Go apply!!!!! Good luck there… much easier said than done! May God bless you and your husband, for the countless sacrifices you’ve both endured through out the years. I’m also married to a man with the same type of work ethic & integrity… so I compmetely understand! Keep your head held high and just remember —-> This too shall pass!!!! Hugs <3 xoxo <3

  • The co’s did their job, mostly. The drug addict did what drug addicts do, mostly. And then the lawyers did what they do, they swindled the tax payers out of several million dollars. I’ve said it before, it’s not democrats or republicans who are destroying this country it’s lawyers and lobbyist.

  • I am married to a correctional Sargeant and know the bs and stress he goes thru daily. Bless Karen and Tim and did their family

  • I think that if the parents of the dead guy would have put half as much effort in helping their son as they did suing the county then their son would still be with them. Either way my hat goes off to Mrs. Hammer for standing by her husband. If she is reading this post then I would like to tell her to thank her husband for his 19 years of service.

  • my heart goes out to this woman & her family. she is right, who is to blame? why cant the responsible party be the one who took the drugs in the first place. my mother died of a drug overdose, I wanted to blame everyone, including myself. but whos fault was it really? was it the doctor who over medicated her, the dealer who sold to her, her husband who watched her or me who couldn’t stand to see her high so I stayed away?… it was her fault, took me years to admit that to myself but I was remembering something my mother had told me when I was young, once you realize its your parents fault your messed up you no longer have an excuse, its called growing up, once you consider yourself grown your responsible for your own life.
    though this man had mental health issues & may have been failed by the system, by his family by mental health, ultimately it was him that took the drugs & he was the one who suffered the consequences in the end, making this tragedy the fault of others is only adding to the problem, taking the guilt away from addicts for their actions while under the influence. yes addiction is a disease (according to the DSM) yes addicts need treatment, but you cant force anyone to get better, stop giving addicts ways out of assuming responsibility for their choices & the actions they take.

  • As you said: Your husband was an overworked and understaffed babysitter of a variety of (slanderous terms) with no medical training, though redially accepting accountable of the health of these (slanderous terms) inmates.. in fact he takes his job so seriously he looses sleep to work related phone calls.

    I’m missing the “defense of his actions” part which I believe was your intent.

    But the best part is your blaming the dead man’s family who “lost him long ago”.

    The fact is they lost him while under your husbands care, who took his job VERY VERY seriously.

  • Criminals always blame others. If they commit murder, they focus on how unfairly they were treated by some police, lawyer, system, etc. As if the murder was inconsequential and unimportant and only things that effect them are worth considering. Same for theft (everybody does it), sexual assault (she wanted it), DUI (cops picked on me for no reason.) They tend to go on and on about every supposed defect in the techniques used to arrest them and never mention what they did to get arrested.

    Even here you will see statements that police should expect to get shot in order to protect the criminal’s life.

    The very idea that society owes its adult members protection from themselves is part of belief that the bad that happens is the result of society not caring and that is all that matters. It’s a very popular belief among criminals that they are owed. No need to encourage this. They believe it as naturally as breathing.

    No. The real battle is to change this self serving idea into one where they see just how much control over their own lives they have and to accept the consequences.

    • What is most disturbing about numerous comments is the willingness to make harsh and uninformed judgments about Daren Borges who suffered from schizophrenia for more than two decades. Maybe these self righteous folk should learn about the relationship between Mr. Borges mental condition and the abuse of drugs. With greater understanding, one may be less willing to drain his/her cup of human kindness. The attacks on Daren’s mother are false, based on total ignorance and are truly beneath contempt.
      I would not contest Mrs. Hammer’s statement that her husband has a very difficult job, is underpaid, and is dedicated to the community. But none of that has anything to do with the crucial question decided by the jury: did the three correctional officers fail to follow their own booking policies and,by so doing, put Mr. Borges in jeopardy of serious harm (death, in this case). After listening to four plus days of testimony and watching videos of the entire process, the jurors found the COs culpable.
      Several folk said Mr. Borges took a lethal dose of meth and he was “walking dead.” An emergency room physician with 30 years experience said had Mr. Borges received proper treatment when brought to the jail, he would have survived. This witness, who has testified for and against police procedures, said he was 100% certain since he had saved many abusers who had taken significantly more drugs than Mr. Borges and never lost one.
      Greedy lawyers? Attorneys for the plaintiff did not ask for two and a half million dollars. They asked the jury to decide an appropriate amount. I can absolutely assure you that Stephany Borges was not interested in enrichment or gouging Humboldt taxpayers. She wanted accountability for what had occurred and wanted to prevent a similar future occurrence.
      My wife and I were in the courtroom for the entirety of the trial. We believe the very attentive jury made the right decision based on everything that was presented. It does not mean the officers found responsible are bad people or that we are anti-law enforcement. It does mean that in this particular incident they failed to live up to their own written policies and a troubled human being died.

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