A mother and father whose mentally ill son was killed in the San Diego County Central Jail by an aspiring rapper and bank robber from New Zealand has filed a claim against the county.
Lyle Woodward was booked into jail on November 8, 2016, for possession of methamphetamine.
A month later, Woodward was allegedly beaten and strangled to death by his cellmate, Clinton Thinn. Thinn is a New Zealand native who had moved to the U.S. to pursue a hip-hop career. His step-sister is a politician in New Zealand.
Thinn was arrested on June 24 of last year for attempting to rob a Bank of America branch in Chula Vista.
According to a report in the Union-Tribune, Thinn entered the bank around closing time. After using a rope to tie the front doors together, Thinn then began to threaten employees. He fired two shots from his flare gun and then attempted to shatter the bulletproof glass that the employees hid behind. Police arrived and arrested him.
On December 3, jail employees locked Woodward in a cell with Thinn and another man.
Some time later, the other cell mate alerted jail staff that Woodward was injured. When jail employees entered they found Woodward face down on the ground bleeding. According to media reports, Thinn was standing over him without a shirt and agitated.
Woodward was unresponsive and died a week later after doctors declared him brain-dead.
In a May 2017 claim to the County of San Diego, obtained through a public records request, Bessie and Edward Woodward allege that jail employees should be held liable for placing a mentally challenged man in a cell with an inmate who was known to be violent. Also, the claim alleges that county staff should have acknowledged Woodward's mental-health issues and known of them before locking him in a cell with Thinn.
If the claim is denied then the family will be allowed to file a lawsuit to seek damages.
Thinn will appear in court for a preliminary exam on November 14. Trial dates are set for November 28 and January.