CSUN student dies in custody

man in blue shirt happily poses for photo
Quinten Thomas in summer of 2014 during EOP Bridge (Photo courtesy EOP)

Quinten Thomas, a fourth-year student at CSUN, was found dead at the Los Angeles Twin Towers Correctional Facility, on March 9.

22-year-old Thomas was arrested in Van Nuys on March 2. Lawyer RoseAnn Frazee is trying to figure out the exact reason why he was arrested. She said there was a warrant for his arrest after a misdemeanor charge.

“He didn’t show up at the hearing because he called his girlfriend [at the time] who was pressing charges against him and she said she wasn’t showing up,” said Frazee. “So him not being familiar with the law [he thought] they probably weren’t going to have a hearing.”

Thomas’ then-girlfriend, Saharra White, is the mother of his 1-year-old daughter. The two planned on meeting up the day he was expected to get out so that he could see his daughter. On March 10, L.A. County Sheriff Detective Gene Morse met White and her daughter at a McDonald’s to tell them that Thomas was found unresponsive in his one-man cell.

“He was refusing to take seizure medication,” White said. “He did have epilepsy, [Detective Morse also said that] they found pills in his cell and that he got into it with the nurse upon intake.”

White called Morse a few days later about the autopsy report and according to Morse, the results found no natural cause of death. White thought Thomas may have hit his head if he did have a seizure, but Detective Morse said no.

When she asked about the footage of Thomas’ cell, Detective Morse informed her that she would not be able to see the footage because of procedures and protocols. The next time White talked to Detective Morse, he said that Thomas had gotten into it with an inmate instead of a nurse.

Detective Morse went out of town and questions were referred to L.A. County Sheriff Lieutenant Rodney Moore. Lt. Moore said Thomas’ death is an open investigation and the cause of death is not yet determined.

Thomas was a foster youth since the age of 16. White said they made it hard to release his body to her and other family members. Thomas’ body was not released for the family to view until March 30. Frazee has worked on cases that have both civil rights and the county involved. She was hired to work on Thomas’ case and requested an independent autopsy.

In the autopsy, not all of Thomas’ organs were present. The county medical examiner said that they have the right to keep tissue without notifying the family first.

Frazee said she wanted to investigate Thomas’ case because he was too young to die in prison and that it’s the county’s responsibility to make sure their prisoners are in good health.

As a health administration major, Thomas had a goal of becoming a health official. He found a community in the CSUN Educational Opportunity Program [EOP]. As a foster youth at CSUN he was able to be in the Resilient Scholars Program. There he met some of his closest friends some who he called family.

On April 11, EOP created a fund to help with Thomas’ burial arrangements and future educational costs for his daughter. He still has not been laid to rest, and if one would like to contribute, they are advised to make checks payable to:

“California State University, Northridge Foundation”

Note in the memo to designate this gift to: “Quinten Thomas Memorial”

Checks should be sent to: California State University, Northridge Foundation

18111 Nordhoff Street – University Hall 110

Northridge, CA 91330-8296

Gifts can also be made through the Foundation’s giving website. Indicate your gift’s designation under “OTHER” to the “Quinten Thomas Memorial.”