A San Diego County law-enforcement review board did not find sufficient evidence that deputies could have prevented the suicide of a 26-year-old man who had been arrested for stealing laptops from dorm rooms at Cal State San Marcos.
Robert Lubsen died on February 7, 2013, from brain trauma when he dove head-first from the second story of a North San Diego County jail.
According to a recent review by the Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board, there was no clear-cut information that deputies could have prevented Lubsen's death — despite the fact that Lubsen tried to hang himself by his shoestrings shortly after his arrest.
During booking at the county jail, as documented in a May 2015 report in the Union-Tribune, despite the presence of red marks around Lubsen's neck and documentation of previous attempts to take his own life, deputies at the time relied on Lubsen's denial of any suicidal ideation.
Lubsen's family sued the county and Cal State San Marcos for wrongful death. In October 2014, the family settled for $120,000 as well as promises that the family could meet with sheriff William Gore in order to try and prevent similar tragedies from occurring. According to the Union-Tribune report, the family soon became frustrated that Gore had brushed off their meeting — the sheriff's department has not responded to the question of whether the meeting did eventually occur.
The decision by the review board was not prompted by a complaint; however, an investigation is required into any inmate death.
According to the findings listed on the board's upcoming March 17 agenda, while placing Lubsen in a temporary safety cell could have prevented his death, the board found that there was not substantial evidence that deputies should have done so. Read the findings, "A medical consult, with particular emphasis on the conflicting information provided by the decedent, could possibly have resulted in the temporary placement of the decedent in a Safety Cell, pending a psychological evaluation, where he would have been closely monitored, assessed within 24 hours, and placed in mainline housing only upon clearance by medical staff. Given, however, the ambiguity of the information provided by the decedent, his self-report of not being suicidal, coupled with the lack of observable indicators during the classification interview of a person with suicidal ideation or psychiatric issues, there was insufficient data to support a safety cell placement, and therefore insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation."