Brother, Estate File Amended Suit Over Female Inmate's Death

COMPTON (CNS) - The estate and brother of a 32-year-old woman who allegedly died at the hands of another inmate at the Los Angeles County women's jail in Lynwood in late 2021 have added a new claim to a lawsuit against the county that already had alleged wrongful death, negligence and civil rights violations.

The estate of the late Destiny Ortega and her sibling, Steven Stevens, filed the amended suit Thursday in Compton Superior Court, alleging failure to summon immediate medical care.

Ortega suffered a "violent, prolonged and painful death," according to the amended suit, which seeks unspecified damages. The original complaint was filed Oct. 25.

A deputy found the bloodied Ortega about 3 a.m. last Dec. 29 on the floor of her cell at the Century Regional Detention Facility a day after Pomona police arrested her on suspicion of a parole violation, the LASD said previously.

Deputies said they unsuccessfully tried to revive Ortega with CPR, but she died at the scene.

According to the amended suit, Ortega was assigned to the same cell as another inmate who deputies knew or should have known was mentally ill and a potential danger to others and therefore should have been isolated, the suit states. Instead, deputies acted "purposely or with reckless disregard" for Ortega's safety knowing the other inmate could be a danger to her, according to the suit.

The new cause of action alleges deputies knew Ortega needed immediate medical care as she was lying "lifeless and not breathing" on the floor of her jail cell and that their failure to get her help "proximately caused" her death.

The LASD has a history of allowing inmates suffering from mental illness or who have gang histories to mix with others in the general population, in part due to a lack of training of deputies to separate the classes of inmates, according to the amended suit.

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