Advocates say Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern is an odd fit for the Bay Area, but mounting a challenge has proved daunting.
When Barbara Doss went to claim her son’s body last June, his face was covered in bruises. “The left side of his skull was busted open,” she said, with “staples holding it together.” He had multiple abrasions on his lips and dark bruises on his cheeks.
Her son, Dujuan Armstrong, died soon after reporting to serve the weekend at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, California. More than seven months later, Doss still did not know how her son died, who was at fault, or who, if anyone, would be held accountable. So in January she traveled from Oakland to Sacramento to confront Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, whose office runs Santa Rita, and who was due in the state capital to preside over a lottery commission meeting.
“I don’t have any answers. I need answers,” she pleaded. “I need to ease my mind.”
Her voice was assured but uneven as she fought back tears. “My son was 23 years old,” she told Ahern. “He left behind a whole ...