a woman standing in front of a podium, facing the sheriff's oversight board, in a hearing room at the city hall
Karina Macay demanded answers regarding her brother’s death during Wednesday’s sheriff’s oversight meeting. Photo by Chuqin Jiang.

“I feel that I prayed for years that he didn’t die out on the streets. And he died in the custody of the Sheriff’s Department. And that’s unacceptable,” said Karina Macay, at Wednesday’s meeting of the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Committee. 

Her brother, Jorge Macay, 41, died under medical observation at a San Francisco jail on Feb. 15. San Francisco’s jails are staffed by sheriff’s deputies. 

Karina, Macay’s older sister, said she received a call yesterday from Tanzanika Carter, the assistant sheriff, after she posted she would come to the scene. She says that’s the first time that the Sheriff’s Department had tried to reach out to her, almost a week after her brother’s death. But she says Carter even got Jorge’s death date wrong.

“I just feel like my brother and our family have been completely disregarded,” Karina choked with sobs, “She said he died on a Thursday. That is not true. And she told me she couldn’t find my phone number. How is that possible if the medical examiner called me at 3:30 the day of my brother’s death?”

Karina, together with nearly 20 people — some are Macay’s friends and family, others are community members who wanted to show solidarity — showed up in the oversight board’s scheduled meeting at City Hall on Wednesday and demanded answers.

“I want accountability and I want a transparent investigation — with me involved, to know exactly what happened,” said Karina.

Joanna Hernandez, Macay’s cousin, said it’s not just about the Sheriff’s Office, but also the Department of Public Health. She questioned the assessment process and the medication that doctors provided. “I worked in those jails for eight years, so I know I was there as an inmate and I was there as an employee,” said Hernandez, “I know firsthand what it is to have to go through systems that fail.”

Joanna Hernandez hugging Karina Macay who was sobbing after addressing her demand. Photo by Chuqin Jiang.

But no one had an on-the-spot answer. The agenda for Wednesday’s oversight meeting was largely focused on approving the new agency’s 2022 Annual Report. Carter pointed Karina to the medical examiner. But she says the medical examiner told her that her questions will be answered by the pending Sheriff’s Department’s investigation.

Members of the oversight board tonight said that the pending investigation will be undertaken by the Department of Police Accountability. 

The oversight board, however, still needs to hire an Inspector General, whose job will be to handle such cases. The board came up with an initial draft of all the job qualifications and sent it to the Department of Human Resources. The transition period for the department to be fully staffed can take at least a year.

“It’s really good, though, when the community does come out, so that we can hear what’s going on, so that we can potentially look into it,” commented Dion-Jay Brookter, a member of the Sheriff’s Oversight Board. 

Several oversight board members expressed sympathy for Macay’s loved ones; Jayson Wechter said he tried to reach out the family on Monday through the fundraiser link, which is set up to support his children and pay for funeral expenses. 

Not every community member was pleased with the interaction, however. 

“How many times can we come and tell City Hall what the solutions are? And they just tell us, ‘Oh, yeah, sure, we’ll look at it.’ And then, once the heat dries off, they just go back to what they’re doing,” said meeting attendee Nick Richmond. “Every day that we don’t change or reform the system means within ourselves, people are dying.”

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INTERN DATA REPORTER. Chuqin has two degrees in data journalism and she is passionate about making data more accessible to readers. Before arriving in the Mission, she covered small business and migratory birds in New York City while learning to code and design at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. She loves coastal cities, including SF and her hometown Ningbo.

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  1. Why not focus your energy on the gangs and cartels that prey on vulnerable people who are incapable of taking care of themselves? Anti-police narratives always come from people invested in removing accountability from the gangs, cartels, and nations who are responsible for killing 1,000 of people on our streets. This is the result of ethnocentrism > people. Missionlocal should do more to challenge this view.

  2. Everyday people who do meth or fentanyl are dying . Right around 700 a year. It’s disingenuous to focus blame on law enforcement and not the addicts themselves and claiming you have to be another meth addict to weigh in or allegedly “understand” is the pinnacle of arrogance and madness,


  3. The DPA is chartered to investigate the San Francisco Police Department and its members. (City Charter 4.136). That is there one job. There is no provision to investigate any other agency. Even if there is a memorandum of understanding between the SFSD and DPA, it appears handing over any sheriff’s investigation to the DPA is a violation of city charter. Did the police commission approve is this cross investigation in a public meeting and vote? If so when? Any sheriffs office investigation takes the DPA away from their mandated charter duties. Furthermore, DPA investigators and attorneys are not trained on Sheriffs dept rules, procedures, handling of custodies in a jail setting. Ask the DPA when was the last time their agency investigated a jail death in custody, if any, the death would have occurred at a police station holding cell and what was the outcome of the investigation. Is the SFSD required to cooperate with the DPA as the SFPD is, probably not directly. Using DPA resources not on the SFPD is wasting DPA’s budget on something they should not be undertaking. Is DPA submitting a bill for their use of DPA time to the sheriff for reimbursement? Who will oversee to ensure payment. Also stresses out other DPA staff when they are handed extra cases as their colleagues investigate the Sheriffs cases.
    The DPA has no experience in these Sheriff’s matters and should not be involved in any manner as well as being a violation of the city charter. What is the authority for DPA to be involved?