The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office is undertaking an internal investigation to determine whether any detention officers should face disciplinary action for failure to adequately monitor a woman who died after being held overnight in the Greensboro jail.
James Secor, the attorney for the sheriff’s office, said in an email to Triad City Beat that staff should have monitored Anna Chris Dominguez at least four times an hour considering her condition when she was booked in the early morning hours of Oct. 16. A magistrate ordered Dominguez to be held overnight in the jail because she appeared intoxicated and the sheriff’s office referenced her as being intoxicated in a press release announcing her death. And Poag previously told TCB that when a staff member asked Dominguez for a family contact during her intake interview, “she was so intoxicated she could not give a name they could understand.”
According to a timeline released earlier this week by the sheriff’s office, detention officers checked on Dominguez three times while she was sleeping — at 2:34 a.m., 3:42 a.m. and 4:40 a.m. A nurse also reportedly looked into the holding cell at 2:43 a.m., and then again at 2:56 a.m. while accompanied by a detention officer. That means that 46 minutes elapsed between the 2:56 a.m. and 3:42 a.m., and 58 minutes elapsed between the 3:42 a.m. and 4:40 a.m. observations. Another 35 minutes went by, from 4:40 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., when a detention officer discovered Dominguez unresponsive.
“The sheriff’s office agrees that four watch tour rounds per hour should have been conducted,” Secor said in an email to TCB. “That issue is the subject of our internal investigation, which will determine if internal personnel action needs to be taken. As reflected in our prior press release, the sheriff’s office has notified the NC Department of Health and Human Services of Ms. Dominguez’s death, and we will also provide the state investigator with the chronology of watch tour rounds when he conducts his investigation at the jail.”
Secor said a review of surveillance video in the holding cell showed that the last time Dominguez was observed breathing was at 4:46 a.m., based on the rise and fall of her chest.
Secor said staffing at the Greensboro and High Point detention facilities operated by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office are is adequate to ensure the safety of the people housed there.
“We are still recruiting actively for detention officers in order to fill vacancies, but even at our current strength, we are meeting the safety needs of our inmates,” Secor said in an email to TCB. “Please keep in mind that the inmate populations in both the High Point and Greensboro detention centers were lowered significantly in the early spring of this year as the result of the GCSO’s cooperative effort with the judges, district attorney’s office, and public defender’s office to reduce our populations because of the COVID pandemic.”
In the timeline released earlier this week, the sheriff’s office indicated that Dominguez had reported to a Greensboro police officer that she had ingested Percocet and alcohol — a potentially deadly combination. But in an email to TCB on Thursday, Secor said the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, prevents the sheriff’s office from disclosing whether Dominguez informed jail staff that she had taken Percocet and alcohol through her intake interview. In his email, Secor downplayed the significance of such information.
“The health information you provided in your question above would not necessarily require inpatient hospital care,” he wrote. “Moreover, Ms. Dominguez had been seen at Moses Cone Hospital just one hour earlier for the blood draw, and it appears that the hospital did not see any medical need to admit her as an inpatient.”
It is unclear whether Dominguez received an evaluation at the hospital. Responding to an inquiry from TCB, Cone Health spokesperson Doug Allred wrote in an email on Friday: “Sorry, we cannot discuss the care of a patient without proper consent.”
Dominguez was discovered passed out in the driver’s seat of a vehicle that was stopped in a roadway at 11:07 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office. A second occupant, who has not been identified, was also passed out in the vehicle. Greensboro police Officer G. Leeman responded to the scene. The arrest record indicates that Dominguez’s vehicle was at the intersection of White Street and Nealtown Road.
Ron Glenn, a spokesperson for the Greensboro Police Department, has previously noted that Officer Leeman took Dominguez to the hospital for a blood draw in response to a question about why the officer did not ensure she received medical assistance after Dominguez reported that she took Percocet and alcohol.
“When they responded to the scene, she noted what she ingested,” Glenn said. “She was given a Breathalyzer, and it came back with a zero reading. They took her to the hospital to determine what she ingested.”