Kristina Frost, a transgender woman, is suing the San Diego County and its sheriff department for "failure to protect or deliberate indifference to safety risks and need."
This is because she was severely injured after being placed in a male prison cell even though, at the time, she identified as a female.
She was forced to share a jail cell with three men, got badly beaten, and was left with jaw fractures.
Frost was supposed to be a 'book and release' defendant. According to the lawsuit filed in the US District Court, this means that she committed a minor crime and should have been in custody for a short time.
At the time of her arrest, she was allegedly wearing female clothing. Her driver's license and DMV records also identified her as a woman.
Despite this, the lawsuit claims, "deputies repeatedly misgendered Ms. Frost, both in person and in official reports documenting the assault giving rise to this case."
On November 25, 2020, she arrived at the Men's Central Jail. At first, she was placed in a holding cell but was later moved to another cell with three men.
The lawsuit claims that she kept to herself until she fell asleep but woke up to beatings from one of the men.
The San Diego Tribune reported that Frost was beaten so severely that her jaw fractured. The deputy(ies) on the ground were accused of watching the attack without immediately stopping it. Also, Frost was left in custody for over 12 hours without receiving medical care.
After her release and visit to the hospital, reports show that she had two fractures on her jaw that required surgeries. The lawsuit read:
"Sadly - and foreseeably - one of the men in the cell viciously attacked Ms. Frost. His closed-fist punches to Ms. Frost's face resulted in serious bodily injuries, including a broken jaw, so far requiring two surgeries to repair."
Frost had her mouth wired shut and is yet to recover. The lawsuit says, "Ms. Frost continues to suffer from these injuries and must now wear dentures."
Deputy Mason Cassidy of the Sheriff's Department was also named as a defendant in the litigation, with claims that he was one of those who made the decision to place Frost in a cell with three men.
This goes against the Sheriff's Department training bulletin that states that "an arrestee should be taken to a facility that coincides with the arrestee's gender identity."
The bulletin states, in part:
"It is the policy of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to receive, evaluate, house, and provide secure, safe, and humane custody of all persons, including transgender, intersex, and non-binary persons. "
"Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) community, are among those most at risk for incidents of sexual abuse."
The entire Sheriff Department has been accused of fostering an unhealthy environment for offenders.
According to the lawsuit, what happened to Frost was a "foreseeable result of department personnel ignoring critical information, failing to protect people in the county's care and failing to adequately monitor individuals in the county's care and custody."
The San Diego County is yet to respond to the lawsuit.