The other night Dan Noyes of ABC7 did a follow up story on Vladimir Matyssik. Mr. Matyssik was an Alzheimer’s patient being held on trespassing charges. He was released by the judge in the interest of justice and due to lack of training, policy, communication, and accountability in the jails Mr. Matyssik was released out on his own, despite a friend waiting to take him home.
Mr. Matyssik ultimately wandered onto a highway and was killed in traffic. For any of us who know the the impacts of Alzheimer’s, you know he was likely lost and confused.
First I would like to thank Dan Noyes for doing this story. In hindsight, it’s become my understanding several people went to several media sources trying to get someone to take this story. Mr. Noyes was the only one who stepped up. Much like he did with the Walter Roches case. Another case in which the sheriff attempted to hide broader facts about which deputies ultimately stepped forward with so the truth would be known.
Deputies tired of the lack of cohesive policies that protect people, tired of the lack of follow through, and sickened by the sheriff’s attempts to keep quiet the fact that this man had been released only hours before stood up. In the face of the sheriff claiming it wasn’t her problem because he didn’t die in custody, they made sure this information got to the media and made sure the family understood what happened in the handling of Mr. Matyssik’s release. Unfortunately the only way to fix things in the county of Santa Clara is to go to the public. The sheriff didn’t care and didn’t follow through to make sure these things don’t happen. The county only cared that the sheriff was bringing them massive budget savings — lives meant nothing.
I hate to say it, but maybe it takes millions of dollars in legal payouts by the taxpayers to wake them up to the negligence of their elected officials. The deaths of people don’t seem to impact our local public, but wasted tax dollars… that affects everyone, and the sheriff is racking up fortunes in tax dollars lost to lawsuits based on negligence and poor management. Now it’s your pocket affected, it’s harder for the public to say “well it wasn’t my loved one,” and keep moving. Those taxes won’t be spent on potholes, libraries, education, resolutions for homelessness and drug abuse, things you expect from your local government. They’ll go to families of the people the sheriff and the Board of Supervisors killed through their negligent oversight and management.
The sad thing is no one can say the public wasn’t warned through the 2014 election where corrections and enforcement told you what was happening because the sheriff and the county had refused to hear them. All of which just adds to the level of negligence on the part of the elected officials who could have stopped this and those who voted for them.
Mr. Matyssik leaves behind a young daughter in college and a wife. I know money won’t bring back their husband and father. It won’t replace the remaining time they had with him that was taken away by a sheriff and a county who carelessly failed to ensure the jails functioned as they should. I do hope having the knowledge of what really happened, and the ability to take control of how this part of their story ends helps them to come to grips with what happened. I don’t know, perhaps knowing that his death was entirely preventable makes it worse… I can’t imagine. But they know the truth, the sheriff was not allowed to hide the truth and let this family wonder if maybe their friend there to pick up Valdimir didn’t try hard enough. He did, our system was just that broken.
I would like to think today that the sheriff and county are truly dedicated to fixing it, but as we saw from the deputy’s blog yesterday, she’s just creating a different, but equally dangerous façade to ramp up for her next election run.
People demand term limits, but here’s the problem — people absolutely have the opportunity and ability to end these negligent elected officials reign at the polls. Don’t just vote, vote smart. Pass the rhetoric, the propaganda, the dog whistles and vote on the available actions of candidates, not whatever words they dreamed up to mislead you for the few months you’re paying attention.