Inmate dies in custody at Tulare County jail

Duane “Steve” Griswold
Duane “Steve” Griswold

An inmate at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility has died after having difficulty breathing.

Duane “Steve” Griswold, 50, of Exeter, died Feb. 21, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department said.

Griswold (no relation to the reporter) was employed as a radiologist in Visalia for several years.

He was in jail awaiting proceedings on two counts of attempted murder of two Tulare County sheriff’s officers from an incident in which he allegedly tried to run them over.

He also was charged with two counts of felony assault on a police officer, one felony count of evading a police officer, two felony counts of hit and run driving and one misdemeanor count of resisting a police officer.

Bail had been set at $500,000.

About 7:55 a.m. Feb. 21, an inmate told jailers his cellmate was having trouble breathing. Deputies applied CPR and an ambulance took Griswold to Kaweah Delta Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The preliminary investigation showed no signs of foul play, according to the Sheriff’s Department. The cause of death is awaiting toxicology reports.

Dr. Frank Macaluso of Visalia, a radiologist, said he worked with Griswold for several years.

“There’s a guy who was an excellent radiologist,” Macaluso said. “He was a perfectionist, a great professional. Always on time, and always there for his patients.”

Griswold was known to friends and colleagues as Steve, Macaluso said.

About six years ago, he stopped working as a radiologist and not long after was badly injured in a car wreck, Macaluso said.

“He aged rapidly after the accident,” Macaluso said.

The incident leading to his arrest began Dec. 18 when a deputy and a sergeant went to a home on Badger Hill Estates east of Visalia to serve a warrant involving failure to clear flammable brush from a structure, according to the Sheriff’s Department. They had tried to serve the warrant a month earlier but Griswold didn’t cooperate.

This time, he got into his pickup and began ramming two Sheriff’s Department vehicles that the deputy and sergeant were trying to use as cover, according to the department. After he sped off they followed him but stopped the pursuit due to safety concerns and because they knew his identity.

On Dec. 23, Fresno police arrested Griswold at The Cheesecake Factory; he was jailed in Tulare County.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold