I-TEAM EXCLUSIVE: Family says Santa Clara County failed in mental health crisis of son

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A South Bay family counted on authorities to help with their son in the midst of a mental health crisis. But now, he's in the hospital with a devastating brain injury, and they want to know how and why it happened.

When I tried to question Sheriff Laurie Smith, her command staff blocked and pushed and grabbed me, leaving scratches and bruises.

But that didn't stop me.

Wendy and Chris Hogan invited me to their son's room at Valley Medical Center, to discuss how he wound up in such bad condition.

Last month, 24-year-old Andy refused to take medication for his schizophrenia and suffered delusions. His parents called the county's Emergency Psychiatric Services to place him on a 5150 hold.

"We told EPS that he was gonna hurt himself or he was gonna hurt us, that he was having delusions, and they said, 'No, he said he's okay,' so they let him go," said Andy's mother Wendy Hogan.

It escalated the very next day. His father tells me, Andy is warm and affectionate when he's on his meds. Without them, it's a different story.

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"I told him that I'll take him where he wanted to go in a little bit and just let me get a couple hours of sleep and then when I was laying there, he reached down and whacked me," said Chris.

Chris called 911, and Andy got arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge.

Sheriff's Department sources tell me staff at the Main Jail's Psychiatric Unit noted Andy's schizophrenia, but decided he would be fine in Elmwood Jail's general population. Within days, Andy started complaining he's hearing voices, that inmates were out to get him, and he demanded to be transferred back to Main Jail.

In the holding cell that day, Saturday, August 25th, Andy violently banged his head against the wall, but officers took no special precautions.

They loaded him in the transport van with leg shackles and a waist chain for his hands. The sources say on the drive, Andy began beating his head against a post inside the van's cage, again and again.

"I just want to cry it just makes me sad to think that he went through that and we couldn't help him," said Andy's mother Wendy Hogan.

Instead of stopping the van and restraining Andy, sources tell me the officers pleaded with him to stop... and called ahead for reinforcements and medical staff to be standing by. But they arrived at the Main Jail sally port and no one was there. Three minutes go by until two supervisors arrive, Andy begging for medical help. Their response, according to sources: "Close the doors. We aren't touching him until Fire and EMS get here."

"He was on a boat in the middle of the ocean with nobody to help him, he was there alone, I mean that's really sad to hear that," Wendy told me.

Sources tell me it took paramedics 20 minutes to arrive, from the time the van got to Main Jail. They opened the doors to see this -- Andy unconscious, his head dented and split open, his blood covering the walls and floor.

I contacted the Sheriff's Department to confirm what happened, to get the names of the officers involved, to get copies of the body cam videos from that incident, but I didn't hear back. So, here I am in San Jose at Evergreen College hoping to get a comment from the sheriff.

I approached Laurie Smith before her election debate with challenger John Hirokawa.

Dan Noyes: "Sheriff I need to talk to you about Andrew Hogan."
Sheriff Laurie Smith: "Who? Oh yeah."
Dan: "The transport on the 25th."

I requested an interview.

Dan: "As you're leaving maybe? I don't want to bother you before the debate."
Smith: "Yeah, probably."
Dan: "Okay great, thanks."

As she departed, I tried to ask questions, but her command staff blocked the way.

"Sherriff, I need to talk to you about Andrew Hogan," I said, as Under Sheriff Rick Sung and Captain Robert Durr surrounded me.

Durr bodychecked me.

"Are you bodychecking me, who are you?" I said.

He wouldn't identify himself, and someone else grabbed me from behind, leaving scratches and bruises but I didn't stop.

Dan: "I'd like to talk to you tomorrow on camera, calmly at your desk or something?"
Smith: "Calmly?"
Dan: "Yeah, like a sit-down interview."
Smith: "My comment will be the same."
Dan: "Which is that?"
Smith: "We're looking into it."
Dan: "Okay, I appreciate your time ma'am. Thanks very much."

With Andy's incident, it looks like the Sheriff's Department will be facing another lawsuit.

"They should have transported Andy by medical personnel and not correctional officers," said attorney Paula Canny.

The Hogans have retained Canny, who represented the family of mentally-ill inmate Michael Tyree beaten to death by three correctional officers. Santa Clara County paid $3.6 million to settle that case.

Andy has suffered a traumatic brain injury. Doctors had to remove the left side of his skull to ease pressure from his brain swelling. He hasn't awoken for a month, doesn't respond to his parents.

"I don't know if he knows who I am or I don't know anything at this point, but I'm angry especially hearing what really happened," said Wendy.

"I mean it is completely possible that Andy will spend the rest of his days unable to go to the bathroom, shower, walk, talk, feel, touch, know the experience of life, to just live in a vegetative state occasionally opening his eyes," Canney told me.

I've filed a public records act request for the radio traffic, the body cameras and surveillance video from the day Andy Hogan suffered that terrible injury. I'll keep you up to date.

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