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Sheriff Gates Disputes Headline on Story About Jail Death

June 23, 1985

Re an article in the Orange County section of the Los Angeles Times on June 6, 1985, on the death of a County Jail inmate:

As you know, the Board of Supervisors recently directed the district attorney's office to conduct all investigations into inmate deaths in the County Jail facilities. On June 4, 1985, inmate Paul Allen Pinkerton was found hanging in the bathroom area of Medical Ward B in the main jail. The district attorney's office was immediately called and has been conducting an official investigation into the case.

At the request of the district attorney's office, the Sheriff's Department released the initial press information and listed the incident as an inmate death. At no time did any of our personnel state the death was a suicide as is printed in the headline of your story on June 6. The article makes no mention of our jail officials making statements to support "County Jail Officials Still Call Death a Suicide," as you published.

The Sheriff-Coroner Department has recently received a great deal of criticism through the media concerning its investigation and classification of jail deaths. The headline of your article is unwarranted and misleads the public into believing we are classifying a jail death we are not even investigating when the district attorney's office has not even finished the investigation. We have enjoyed a good working relationship with the Los Angeles Times and would hope that this was an error rather than a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.

--BRAD GATES

Sheriff-Coroner,

Orange County

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