Herrera’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, and a jury trial is scheduled for 2021. The county denies all wrongdoing.
The investigation into Herrera’s death remains open, and no one has been charged. Investigators have interviewed every inmate in the pod at the time of his death, along with every officer on duty.
Detectives were awaiting results from a DNA test of some evidence from the scene, according to a recent court filing.
The prolonged homicide investigation is but one of Mims’ challenges in managing the chaotic Fresno jail. Since the 2015 consent decree, lawyers and prison-reform experts have called for more jail staffing. In meetings with the sheriff’s staff, they examine progress in correcting a jail that has become known for its record of violence and death.
Mims does not attend those meetings and said she instead sends jail administrators to represent her office.
Specter, with the Prison Law Office, said a sheriff’s absence sends a clear message. “One indication of how much they care is whether they show up,” he said.
For her part, Mims has established herself as a voice on national immigration policy. She traveled with President Donald Trump to the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this month to advocate tougher federal enforcement.
Meanwhile, the county jail is grappling again with setbacks. Within the past two months, three dozen correctional officers have retired or quit their posts.
The jail remains filled to capacity.