More details of three police and sheriff in-custody deaths in recent months 

click to enlarge Two men have died this year while in the custody of the Sheriff’s Department. The mother of one of the men is scheduled to meet with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. - MIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Two men have died this year while in the custody of the Sheriff’s Department. The mother of one of the men is scheduled to meet with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

The mother of a man who died in County Jail this month said she will be her "son's voice" until she finds out how he died.

Janet Planells is the mother of Antolin Marenco, who died in custody Oct. 3. She said the Sheriff's

Department, which operates the County Jail system, has not told her how her son died, but she has a planned meeting with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his staff to speak about the incident.

Planells did not hear from the Sheriff's Department about her son's death until she called, she said.

Representatives from the Medical Examiner's Office came to her house at 11 p.m. Oct. 3 and told her that her son had died, but gave few other details because there was an open investigation. But they did say that it appears to have been suicide, since he was found hanging in his cell.

Planells last spoke to her son about noon on the day of his death and did not think he sounded disturbed or depressed. He told her he missed her and loved her, she said.

"I call this a David-and-Goliath situation," Planells said, "and I am not afraid of Goliath."

Still, she is reserving judgment on how he died.

Marenco, 40, is one of two men who have died in Sheriff's Department custody this year.

Brette Robinson, 44, died Aug. 23 in one of The City's smaller jail facilities that holds female and male prisoners. Marenco died at the 850 Bryant St. facility, the main County Jail in San Francisco.

Both cases are under investigation, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Another in-custody death, involving the Police Department, occurred Oct. 14 and remains under investigation. Neither the name of the person who died nor the circumstances of the death have been released.

UPDATE: On Thursday, The San Francisco Examiner learned the name of the person who died in police custody. He was Jonathan Mitchell, 49, according to the Medical Examiner's Office. He also died Oct. 14, not Oct. 18, as police originally reported. The circumstances of the death are unknown, as the case is under investigation.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Bio:
Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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