What happened to Eugene Youngblood? Family of man who died at Lancaster jail seeking answers

Leo Stallworth Image
Thursday, June 20, 2024
Family of man who died at Lancaster jail seeking answers
Eugene Youngblood died at the Lancaster sheriff's station jail after his arrest on June 5. His family is wondering what happened and is now filing a claim against the county.

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- The family of a man who died at the Lancaster sheriff's station jail following his arrest earlier this month is demanding answers and taking legal action.

Family members of Eugene Youngblood held a press conference Wednesday alongside their attorney, Brad Gage, to announce the filing of a claim against the county.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Youngblood was arrested on June 5 for possession of narcotics for sales. A deputy conducting a routine security check found him unresponsive on a bunk.

Deputies administered two doses of Narcan until the fire department arrived, but Youngblood was pronounced dead shortly after, the sheriff's department said.

"He went to a Lancaster jail a perfectly healthy 43-year-old man, and about four to five hours later, he was dead," said Gage. "We don't know why he was dead, but we do know that there is an allegation that he had bruising on his face as if he had been punched in the face."

Youngblood's sister, Gina Youngblood, said her brother died within hours of being booked into the jail.

"He was already gone by the time we got there," she said. "All this happened less than 24 hours. He went in sometime in the evening and he was dead."

An official cause of death has not been released and an autopsy is pending.

In a statement, the sheriff's department said investigators have not found any evidence of force used during Youngblood's arrest or during his incarceration at the jail.

The department said investigators also did not find signs of trauma on Youngblood at the scene.

Meanwhile, Youngblood's family is simply seeking justice - and answers.

Gage said Youngblood was booked for a nonviolent offense and was expected to be processed and released soon after.

"It was for a misdemeanor," he said. "It was going to be, as we understand it, what's known as a 'cite and release,' which means they would process him because it was a low-level crime and release him that day."

Gage continued, saying, "By bringing this forward, seeking justice, we can help to avoid anyone else and any other families from going through these kinds of pain, this kind of death."

Meanwhile, the sheriff's department said it "has not officially received this claim but takes every in-custody death seriously and strives to make every effort possible to prevent similar deaths in the future.

The Department thoroughly investigates each in-custody death for policy and procedures issues and assessment of care. The Department oversight bodies are encouraged to participate in the review process and are present to discuss corrective or preventative action. When there is evidence that Department policies and procedures were not followed the appropriate administrative action is taken and personnel are held accountable."

Investigators are still reviewing body worn camera footage from that day and personal property and evidence have since been collected as part of the investigation.