Family Demands Answers after Son Dies in Custody

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A father is searching for answers after his son died while in custody at the San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp.

Deputies discovered 27-year-old Alex Sutherland deceased in his cell early Wednesday morning.

"All I'm saying is Alex was healthy the day before and dead the next," Jeffery Sutherland, Alex Sutherland's father, told FOX40.

Sutherland said Manteca Police took his son to the jail, after he was arrested for being intoxicated in public outside a 7-Eleven store on Yosemite Avenue.

"We all worked through this, tried to get Alex some help, and Alex had a drinking problem, he did have that," Sutherland said.

The next thing he knew, county officials were at his door telling him Alex had died while in custody.

"(The official said), 'On the next turn we check on him, he was not responding, and we tried to revived him, and he passed away.'"

Sutherland said his son often drank too much, and would sometimes panhandle, but otherwise he had no criminal record.

He said officers told him Alex briefly passed out during his arrest, which raised questions for Sutherland.

"And I said, 'Well wait a minute, why wouldn't you take him to the San Joaquin County Hospital?' Because they told me he was not responding. He said well he did wake up after awhile when we booked him," Sutherland recalled the conversation he had with county officials.

"Besides his whole drinking problem, I would definitely say he wouldn't have been in a situation with his health where he would go to sleep and not wake up," said Alex's brother, Andrew Sutherland.

Andrew Sutherland said he went to get some answers with his father, and asked to view Alex's body.

"They basically told us that it's under investigation and that we can not see the body, that the body is evidence, and then I asked, 'Well, is there crime?' And they said they had no answers," Andrew Sutherland said.

The San Joaquin Sheriff's Office said it is awaiting an autopsy and toxicology reports to determine Alex's cause of death.

Sutherland said county officials told him those results could take three to six months and so far no one has said when Alex's body will be released to the family.

"He needs to be embalmed, and I need to get him under the ground. I need his brothers to have closure for this. I need for my family to have closure to this. I'm very upset. That was my baby son," Sutherland said.

Sutherland said he was told by deputies Alex was in his cell alone.

He said no one would answer his questions if Alex's body had any bruises, or broken bones.

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