Investigation underway after Anoka County inmate’s death; family waits for answers

Investigation underway after Anoka County inmate’s death

Investigation underway after Anoka County inmate’s death

The Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the death of an inmate at the Anoka County jail last month, according to officials.

Family identified the man as 22-year-old Cristian Rivera-Coba, of Minneapolis.

Loved ones gathered Thursday afternoon outside the Anoka County Jail, trying to bring light to the case as they wait for answers from authorities.

Obdulia Coba broke down in tears as she pleaded for answers after her son died on July 21.

“He had a long life ahead of him,” Coba said through a translator. “Cristian didn’t like to fight or see anyone fighting. That’s why I want answers.”

According to records, Rivera-Coba was an inmate at the Anoka County Jail.

The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement Friday about the case:

“On July 21, 2023, at approximately 8:00 P.M. an adult male inmate in the Anoka County Jail became unresponsive while being attended to by a detention deputy and medical staff with the Anoka County contracted medical provider, Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc. The jail and medical staff immediately requested assistance from Allina EMS and began actively administering life saving measures on the inmate. Emergency responders transported him to a local hospital where he sadly was later declared deceased. As per protocol, the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation with the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office. The Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office will provide further updates as they become available.”

Anoka County Sheriff’s Office

Court records show Rivera-Coba was arrested a few days before his death, charged with car theft, and fleeing a police officer from the incident on July 18.    

Records indicated Rivera-Coba “…admitted to smoking Percocet pills laced with fentanyl prior to being stopped by law enforcement.”

“The grief is palpable, I agree no one should have to go through this. We are just asking for answers,” said Pastor Ronald Evans, who joined the family outside the jail.

Evans is CEO of ‘Be Their Voices’, a group that advocates for the incarcerated, joined the family Thursday at a press conference with other activists.

“People feel forgotten, people think these individuals are forgotten, sometimes they are mistreated, there’s maltreatment that goes on, we’re not saying that’s what happened here, but we just want to know,” Evans said.

According to the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), there have been a total of 46 inmate deaths in county jails statewide between 2018 – 2022. The DOC says so far this year, there have been 11 inmate deaths in local county jails.

The Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office confirms that the death investigation is ongoing.

A Sherburne County Sheriff’s spokesperson said the medical examiner is awaiting the results of the toxicology tests before issuing a final cause and manner of death.