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East Bay Lawmaker Promises Swift Action After Jail Nurse Murder

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(AP)

(AP)

CBS SF Bay (con't)

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MARTINEZ (KCBS/AP) – Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) planned to introduce legislation as early as December to address safety concerns after the death of a nurse at the Contra Costa County jail.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Inmate Aaron Nygaard, 34, allegedly attacked Cynthia Palomata, of El Sobrante, Monday. Palomata was hospitalized after the attack with what the sheriff described as non-life threatening injuries, but her death was announced Thursday.

Nygaard was waiting to be processed on burglary charges when he allegedly faked a seizure and hit Palomata with a table lamp from the nurses’ station while she was tending to the man.

He was initially charged with attempted murder, but Contra Costa County prosecutors announced Thursday they planned to amend the charges, considering Palomata’s death.

“This person had been in our custody, had gone through all the screening for, you know, an entire day. And there was absolutely no indication that he was capable let alone interested in hurting somebody,” Sheriff Warren E. Rupf said.

The California Nurses Association claimed Palomata’s death was part of a larger, disturbing trend of violence in all medical facilities.

Earlier this month, an employee at Napa State Hospital was killed, allegedly by a mental patient.

Hayashi promised to lobby for better security for all California medical workers.

Rupf acknowledged the potential for violence in a jail setting, but maintained it usually didn’t involved medical staff.

“Inmate to staff assaults for the calendar year of 2009 numbered about 48,” he said. “None of those were assaults against medical health service workers.”

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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