Man dies, family questions Kern County Sheriff's Office

Man dies, family questions Kern County Sheriff's Office »Play Video

OILDALE, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A man died while in the custody of Kern County Sheriff's deputies on Saturday morning.

Deputies responded to a call at approximately 6:30 a.m. that reported a man was making a lot of noise outside of homes on the 600 block of Francis Street in Oildale.

"I just heard yelling and hollering, and like he was out of his head or something," said one woman who did not want to be identified.

According to authorities, the man, 27-year-old Thomas Smoot, was also seen by residents on the street rolling around and doing push-ups in the front yard of a home.

Lt. Dean Marshall with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said deputies arrested the man for being publicly intoxicated, but that he offered no resistance.

“Other than appearing to be under the influence of something, he was cooperative,” said Marshall.

While en route to the Kern County Jail, Smoot stopped talking and became unresponsive. The deputy pulled over near the area of North Chester and Decatur, summoned medical assistance, and began performing CPR.

Once the ambulance had arrived, Smoot was transported to Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:34 a.m.

Smoot’s family is now questioning the way that the authorities handled the situation.

“When Tommy was rolling around on the grass asking for help, saying ‘help,’ we wondered why the police department never once called the ambulance instead?” said Carmen Smith, Smoot’s grandmother.

“If they had called an ambulance, just maybe he could have got help,” said Smith.

Thomas Smoot’s mother, Sami Smoot, offers an explanation of what she thinks happened to her son on Saturday morning.

“My son ingested some kind of drug, went to his house and realized he was in trouble. He got into his car, realized he couldn’t drive, and that’s why his car was in the middle of the road. He got out of his car, he started running around the neighborhood for help,” said Sami Smoot.

Thomas Smoot was married and had two young sons. The family is asking for donations towards funeral arrangements. Anyone who is interested in helping the Smoot family can send an email to