The latest custodial death cleared by the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office involved no actual jail cell. That's because the booking and arresting of Chad E. Smith in 2012 occurred in a hospital after he attempted suicide.
When he actually shot himself in the head is unclear since the OCDA's report fails to mention the date, but apparently it happened not long after Smith's girlfriend broke up with him over the phone.
In the "he said, she said" spat, Smith threatened the unnamed woman with deportation. She countered with plans to alert authorities about his alleged illegal firearms and steroid slanging.
While at their apartment complex, Smith pulled up to his girlfriend in a car and ordered her into it at gunpoint. As he drove off, he repeatedly said he was going to kill himself. Somehow, his girlfriend managed to call 911 and Fountain Valley police arrived to the scene as the couple parked off the corner of Euclid Street and Condor Avenue.
The breakup came to a gruesome end when Smith told her, "This is not your fault, but you ruined my life" and then shot himself in the head. She ran out of the car towards Officer Jarred Frahm.
An ambulance took Smith to UCI Medical Center. After being transferred to Western Medical Center Santa Ana, Smith was booked and arrested for kidnapping. He never recovered from his self-inflicted wound, however and two months later, the man's mother requested a compassionate release from an OC Superior Court judge. Once granted, Smith died in the evening hours of April 5, 2012.
"There is no evidence of any breach in the duty of care owed to Smith. Without a breach of failure to perform a duty there can be no negligence, much less criminal negligence," the OCDA wrote in its legal analysis. "Furthermore, there was no evidence of foul play on the part of any person who came into contact with Smith prior to his death. Smith's death was due to his own decision to end his life."
The OCDA report can be read in its entirety online.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz