Defense Attorney Requested Psychiatric Care for Inmate Prior to Apparent Suicide

A 50-year-old San Francisco man who died in an apparent suicide Tuesday while incarcerated in San Francisco County Jail was in psychiatric crisis and needed professional intervention, a public defender’s office spokeswoman said.

But the inmate, Alberto Carlos Petrolino, who was arrested after the California Highway Patrol found him at the Golden Gate Bridge Saturday after a family member called 911 and told dispatch he was threatening suicide, wasn’t taken to the hospital, San Francisco Public Defender’s Office spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton said.

Instead, Petrolino was taken to jail for an unrelated misdemeanor arrest warrant.

San Francisco sheriff’s assistant legal counsel Mark Nicco said that Petrolino was arrested Saturday for allegedly twice violating a stay-away order and that he died on Tuesday in County Jail No. 2, located on Seventh Street in San Francisco.

San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Elizabeth Camacho, who was in court with Petrolino on Monday, just a day before his apparent suicide, saw that he was extremely distraught and requested that he receive psychiatric attention.

While the judge noted the request, Petrolino remained in jail with his bail set at $50,000 and less than 24 hours later he was dead.

“The priority should have been to get him that care rather than putting him behind bars,” Aparton said.

Petrolino’s family has been notified of the death and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi extended his condolences to the family.

Investigations into the events leading up to Petrolino’s death are underway by San Francisco police, the sheriff’s department’s internal affairs unit and the medical examiner’s office, Nicco said.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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