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Ex-deputy's death at county jail in Modesto ruled accidental

Family photo of Craig Prescott courtesy of Rachel Prescott
Family photo of Craig Prescott courtesy of Rachel Prescott Unknown

Deputies in the Stanislaus County Jail did not commit a crime when they used Tasers and pepper spray to subdue inmate Craig Prescott on April 11, an incident that preceded his death two days later, Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager announced today.

Fladager disclosed the results of a six-month inquiry into whether deputies were at fault for Prescott’s death. Investigators conducted their own interviews, read witness statements, researched medical records and cited an autopsy report to reach their conclusions.

The coroner’s report said Prescott died of hypertensive heart disease and determined the death was accidental. Fladager’s office further concluded that deputies used force in a legal manner when they attempted to subdue Prescott on April 11 in the jail in downtown Modesto.

"Even assuming that the deputies' use of physical strength to restrain Prescott, the use of the Taser, or even the use of the restraints themselves caused Prescott to engage in heightened physical activity, the deputies were acting in a lawful manner and in a lawful way," the district attorney's office said in a press release.

The results of the investigation are described in greater detail in a 17-page letter from Fladager’s office to the Sheriff’s Department.Prescott, 38 and a former deputy, was arrested April 7 on suspicion of stalking and making threats against his wife. She had a restraining order against him and had custody of their six children.

His wife has said she had her husband arrested because she wanted him to get help for mental health problems.

An altercation occurred April 11 as deputies tried to move Prescott from the general population to a "safety cell." He stopped breathing, was unresponsive and was taken to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.

At 11:20 a.m. April 13, Prescott was declared dead after doctors turned off life-support machines.

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