New report targets Santa Clara Co. sheriff on 2018 inmate's brain damage case amid corruption trial

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ByDan Noyes via KGO logo
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
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A new report on Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith after the department shut down an investigation after a jail inmate's mental health crisis.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Clara County failed to protect a jail inmate going through a mental health crisis, and paid his family $10 million for the brain damage he suffered. Now, a stunning report - that the sheriff's department shut down an Internal Affairs investigation to find out how that happened.

This is yet another blow to Sheriff Laurie Smith. This issue is already part of her corruption trial now underway.

Some of the strongest criticism yet out of the Santa Clara County board of supervisors for embattled Sheriff Laurie Smith came from Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

"You know, you have to ask yourself, at what point do people say, you know, this shocks the conscience enough? And I think we are long past that point," he said.

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Supervisor Simitian is reacting to the report from a civilian auditor about the Andy Hogan case.

The I-Team first broke the story in 2018 - how the inmate at Elmwood Jail was suffering a mental health crisis, how deputies failed to restrain him during the ride to the Main Jail's psychiatric unit, and on the way, he beat his head against a metal pole inside the van.

Once at the main jail, Hogan called for help.

ANDY HOGAN: "I'm dying."

DEPUTY: "I know."

ANDY HOGAN: "Hey, get me out."

DEPUTY: "Okay, hold on."

ANDY HOGAN: "You guys!"

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But the sergeant on the scene slammed the doors shut and kept staff away, saying, "So we're gonna wait. He can do all the damage he wants. We're waiting for it to be safe for us. So, a nurse is going to come out. That's the plan."

Paramedics did not arrive for more than 30 minutes. Hogan badly bleeding, his skull dented, he finally passed out. The I-Team's Dan Noyes talked to his parents shortly after the incident.

"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," said Chris Hogan.

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When Dan Noyes tried to interview Sheriff Smith about Andy Hogan, her command staff body checked Noyes and grabbed his arm leaving bruises.

DAN NOYES: "I'd like to talk to you tomorrow on camera, calmly at your desk or something?"

SHERIFF SMITH: "Calmly?"

DAN NOYES: "Yeah, like a sit down interview."

SHERIFF SMITH: "My comment will be the same."

DAN NOYES: "Which is what?"

SHERIFF SMITH: "We're looking into it."

Dan: "Okay, I appreciate your time, ma'am, thanks very much."

The new report says Lt. Amy Le was in charge of the jail's response to Hogan's injuries. She was also head of the correctional deputies union that donated $300,000 to the sheriff's reelection campaign that year.

After the election, Laurie Smith promoted Le to captain, and her office killed the Internal Affairs investigation before it even questioned Amy Le or anyone else.

"It's appalling, and I don't know how we can ever hope to attract good people to a department that steps and in fact, normalizes such shameful misconduct," Simitian said.

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Dan Noyes spoke with Amy Le by phone; she didn't want to go on camera. She tells us that she wanted the Internal Affairs investigation and doesn't know why they killed it.

Le says that she followed protocol and the main problem happened back at Elmwood Jail where they failed to restrain Hogan properly.

The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on Tuesday to review every Internal Affairs investigation under Laurie Smith who is not up for reelection. They also want to meet with the new sheriff early next year, to make sure they take action to prevent this from happening again.

We also reached out to Sheriff Smith through her lawyer, but did not hear back. She returns to court on Wednesday morning for her corruption trial on this issue, and an alleged pay-to-play scheme.

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