Family of inmate firefighter trainee suing Tuolumne, Stanislaus officials over 2018 death

28 April 2021

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USA – SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The family of a man who died at the Sierra Conservation Center in 2018 has filed a lawsuit, saying their son’s death could have been prevented and the real cause was covered up.

Jacorey Shaw was 26 years old when he was serving time for a drug-related crime at the Sierra Conservation Center in Tuolumne County in September 2018.

Brian Dunn, the attorney representing Shaw’s family, says Shaw agreed to participate in a firefighter training program that consisted of hours of physical activity.

“He was doing about 2.5 hours of really strenuous physical activity on an unusually hot day,” Dunn said.

Dunn says on top of that, they added a third of a mile jog that wasn’t initially a part of the program on a day where temperatures reached more than 90 degrees.

“He could not ask for water in many instances because you would automatically fail if you did,” Dunn said.

Shaw collapsed shortly after completing the program and died later that evening.

While Dunn says the death could have been prevented, he says what he saw on the autopsy report from the Stanislaus County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office made it worse.

“He said that Mr. Shaw was obese when he wasn’t obese. He said he had an enlarged heart when he had a normal heart,” Dunn said.

When it came to checking the surveillance video of the actual incident, Dunn says all the footage leading up to Shaw’s death was nowhere to be found.

“That footage is all gone and they have an affidavit from someone saying, ‘We don’t have it,’” Dunn said.

Shaw’s family is now suing the sheriff-coroner’s offices in Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties.

“They’re absolutely horrified and devastated,” Dunn said.

The spokesperson for both the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office and the California Department of Correction declined to comment on this story.

Cal OSHA says that all protocols were followed.

FOX40 reached out to Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office but has not gotten a response.

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