The family of a female inmate found dead in a Stanislaus County lockup is preparing to sue the county for $25 million, according to a claim filed last month.
Relatives say Leslee Patricia Gutierrez, 37, of Modesto was booked at Modesto's Public Safety Center for a probation violation Feb. 17. About two hours later, jail staff found Gutierrez dead of a methadone overdose, family members said.
"Something happened, we don't know what and we want answers," said Cindy Gutierrez.
Leslee Gutierrez is the ex-wife of Cindy's father.
"Twenty-five million dollars gets their attention when they won't answer your questions," she added. "This is about getting answers. There is definitely responsibility and liability on the part of the county."
Leslee Gutierrez was in the hospital for five days before she was picked up by law enforcement for a probation violation, her family said. Gutierrez had been prescribed methadone in the past for pain, but relatives are unsure when she was given the drug that allegedly killed her.
Assistant county counsel Edward R. Burroughs said Thursday the county's risk management department was still looking into Gutierrez's claim.
The county is fighting a lawsuit filed by the family of a former sheriff's deputy who died after a struggle with deputies at the downtown Modesto jail in April 2009.
The family of Craig Prescott, 38, of Modesto is seeking $10 million in damages after jailers used Tasers and pepper spray to subdue him. Prescott was booked at the downtown Modesto jail April 7, 2009, on suspicion of stalking and making threats against his wife.
She has said the family was hoping to get him mental health treatment after he started exhibiting disturbing behavior.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.