By Gina Yarbrough
San Diego, CA–A jail doctor was charged Wednesday in the death of a female inmate in custody at the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee, authorities said.
The District Attorney’s Office made the decision to charge Dr. Friederike Von Lintig with the death of 24-year-old Elisa Serna of Alpine who died November 11, 2019, at the facility.
Dr. Von Lintig was the doctor on duty at the time of Serna’s death. She was a contracted staff member of Coastal Hospitalist Medical Associates, then was later employed by Correctional Healthcare Partners, Incorporated.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation into the incident that led investigators to submit a criminal case to the District Attorney’s Office for review.
“We support the District Attorney’s decision to file criminal charges in this case, which centers around the actions and decisions of individuals who were entrusted with the care of Ms. Serna. Those actions do not reflect the values or obligation of the Sheriff’s Department to keep people safe when they are in our custody,” the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
In November 2021, the District Attorney’s Office charged Sheriff’s nurse Danalee Pascua with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Serna’s death. At that time, the Sheriff’s Department took immediate action to suspend Pascua pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.
The Medical Examiner said the cause of death was complications of chronic polysubstance abuse with a contributing factor of early intrauterine pregnancy, and the manner of death was natural.
Deputies were doing a security check around 8:07 p.m. at the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility and found Serna unresponsive in her cell. Deputies and medical staff performed first aid until relieved by paramedics. Despite lifesaving efforts, the woman was pronounced dead. She was alone in her cell within the Medical Observation Unit and no preliminary evidence of foul play was discovered. Serna had been in custody for six days for theft and drug-related charges.
The Sheriff’s Department says it is committed to providing compassionate medical services for the safety, health, and well-being of everyone entrusted in their care.
“We have and will continue to follow strict protocols for investigating and responding to allegations of misconduct,” the Sheriff’s Department stated.