October 4, 2019 –  A 26-year-old San Ramon man ingested an eighth of an ounce of cocaine, which caused him to have seizures and a fatal heart attack as he was being booked in the jail last November, officials testified at a Contra Costa County coroner’s inquest hearing Thursday morning. Karthik Kandaswamy, 26, was being booked on a misdemeanor battery charge after throwing a sandal at his father and punching a hole in the wall during a family dispute, police testified Thursday. During the booking process, he began to have seizures, and died in an ambulance before officials took him to a local hospital.

Kandaswamy’s death is one of several since 2018 that involved drug overdoses or the use of drugs in the Martinez jail. A forensic pathologist testified Thursday his death was caused by cocaine toxicity. According to police testimony, two inmates told investigators that Kandaswamy admitted to ingesting “an eight ball” — slang for an eighth of an ounce — of cocaine while he and five other inmates were inside a holding cell. Kandaswamy told the inmates he took the drugs before being strip-searched, and they said they grew concerned for his safety and encouraged him to try and drink water or force himself to vomit the drugs up.

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