A tough-talking 56-year-old man from Upland ended up dead on Sunday after he was put in a jail cell with a man 30 years his junior.
Adam Preston Adams and Marco Antonio Lopez-Hernandez were both Upland residents. It is not clear whether they were acquainted through the street culture both took part in while living in the 79,838-population city. Adams is now dead at Lopez-Hernandez’s hands, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Lopez-Hernandez, 26, had been in sheriff’s department custody since his March 29 arrest by the Upland Police Department on Penal Code 484(A) petty theft charges. In the course of his arrest, according to the Upland Police Department, he grew combative and attempted to take the arresting police officer’s gun away from him. As a consequence of the two additional charges – Penal Code 69 obstructing a police officer/resisting arrest and Penal Code 148(D) attempting to remove a firearm from a police officer – Lopez was not granted release on his own recognizance, as might otherwise have occurred. Rather, he was held in lieu of $80,000 bond, an amount neither he nor his family was able to arrange.
On May 11, Adams was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats of inflicting great bodily injury and resisting arrest, based on a March 16 incident. Both Adams and Hernandez-Lopez have extensive arrest records and criminal histories that involve violence and threats of serious violence. Both were subjected to psychological evaluations at one point or other during their multiple incarcerations, with Adams’ mental capacity at one point having been determined to put himself and others at risk. Despite those considerations, jailers at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga housed them in the same jail cell.
A deputy found Adams lying unresponsive on the floor of his cell at about 4:54 a.m. May 21. Emergency medical staff who were on standby at the jail were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead on the spot.
Adams has a highly repetitive criminal record consisting of over 35 mostly drug-related arrests, intersticed with occasional acts of violence or theft, and a string of failures to appear in court with regard to previous arrests and/or citations.
On May 11, 2023, he was picked up with regard to a misdemeanor contempt of court/disobeying a court order charge dated March 16 of this year, at which point he engaged in misdemeanor obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest, which was compounded by a felony, what the arresting Upland Police Department officers characterized as making criminal threats which if fulfilled would lead to great bodily injury or death. On May 12 he entered a plea on that matter and was awaiting a final disposition.
Adams’ criminal activity extends back two decades but in the last two years had intensified as his use of controlled substances increased.
On August 22, 2003, he was arrested for misdemeanor being in possession of a controlled substance. He pleaded guilty to that charge on September 9, 2003.
On May 23, 2015, he was charged with misdemeanor being drunk in public. That charge was later dismissed.
On February 28, 2016, he was arrested for misdemeanor making criminal threats. That case was dismissed on March 10, 2016, subject to a guilty plea to a charge of having engaged in misdemeanor battery on February 28, 2016. For that, he was sentenced to 12 days in jail.
He was charged with felonious false imprisonment and making threats of great bodily injury in an incident that occurred on August 27, 2016. On June 1, 2017 he pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and the other charge was dropped.
Adams was accused of having engaged in misdemeanor battery on November 2, 2020, along with misdemeanor battery against a police officer and felony assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm likely to cause great bodily injury. On November 18, 2020, he pleaded guilty to the felony and the misdemeanors were dismissed.
On February 18, 2022, he was arrested in Upland for being in possession of a controlled substance. That case was later dismissed.
On February 21, 2022, Adams was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The charge was dismissed on December 1, 2022.
On April 4, 2022, Adams was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance. The charge was dismissed on December 1, 2022.
On May 30, 2022, he was arrested for being in the possession of a controlled substance. The charge was dismissed on December 1, 2022.
On July 15, 2022, he was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The charge was dismissed on November 17, 2022.
On August 7, 2022, he was arrested in Ontario for being drunk in public. The charge was dismissed on December 1, 2022.
On August 9, Adams was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The charge was dismissed on December 1, 2022.
On August 14, 2022, Adams was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The charge was dismissed on December 1, 2022.
On August 18, 2022, Adams was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The charge was dismissed on December 1, 2022.
He was charged with obstructing or resisting a police officer on August 19, 2022. That charge was yet pending against him at the time of his death.
On August 25, 2022, Adams was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The charge was dismissed on December 1, 2022.
On September 2, 2022, he was arrested in Rialto for misdemeanor being drunk in public. On December 1, that charge was dismissed.
On September 24, 2022, he was arrested in Upland for misdemeanor being under the influence of a controlled substance. The charge was dismissed on December 1, 2022.
He was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance on November 3, 2022 and again on November 6, 2022. Those charges were dismissed on February 7 of this year.
He was arrested in Upland for engaging in misdemeanor obstructing/resisting a police officer on November 27, 2022. He pleaded guilty to that charge on December 1, 2022 and was given 30 days in jail.
Typically, what would happen with Adams is he was charged with drug-related offenses, would fail to appear, and eventually be arrested and go to court, at which time he would enter a guilty plea to one charge or another and the remainder of charges outstanding against him would be dismissed, in the court’s parlance, “in the interest of justice.”
He was arrested for being under the influence on February 23, 2022; February 25, 2022; February 3, 2022; February 17, 2020; February 2, 2020; November 2, 2019; June 14, 2019; November 4, 2018; June 15, 2018; May 19, 2018; April 15, 2016; June 6, 2007; January 6, 2015 and June 1, 2012.
Adams was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance or paraphernalia on April 9, 2022; February 2, 2022, May 24, 2020, September 28, 2018 and August 10, 2016.
On October 29, 2020, he was arrested for theft of personal property. That charge was later dismissed.
Some of those dealing with Adams, including those in the court system, recognized Adams was not right in the head.
At one point during his incarceration and prosecution, doubt about his mental health was declared and the proceedings were suspended so that a medical commission could look into the matter. Adams was ushered to Dr. David Walsh, a psychiatrist for an examination.
Despite that declaration, during the incarceration that led to Adams’ death, the sheriff’s department housed him with another violent offender about whose mental competency the court had similar misgivings.
Lopez-Hernandez, who was less than half Adams’ age, had fewer arrests than Adams, though in Lopez-Hernandez’s case, there was a similarity to the type of charges that had been lodged against Adams. With Lopez-Hernandez, the numeric ratio of violent offenses to drug offenses was greater than with Adams.
It was alleged that on February 29, 2016, the-then 19-year-old engaged in vandalism and creating a disturbance by means of loud and excessive noise. He appeared in court on the matter one day less than a year later, on February 28, 2017, where he pleaded not guilty. On April 11, 2017, he accepted a guilty plea on a disturbance of the peace offense and was given probation. The vandalism charge was dismissed.
On February 4, 2017, Lopez-Hernandez was arrested in Upland for felony making criminal threats likely to result in great bodily injury or death and using a deadly weapon. On February 9, 2017, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. On April 11, 2017, the charges were dismissed.
On July 13, 2017, Lopez-Hernandez was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded firearm, making a purchase of a salable amount of narcotics and being in possession of narcotics for sale. On March 13, 2019, he pleaded no contest to all three charges.
On August 26, 2019, Lopez-Hernandez was arrested for being drunk in public. On December 18, 2019, he entered a guilty plea to that charge.
On January 31, 2021, he was arrested in Upland for misdemeanor tampering with a vehicle, misdemeanor vandalism and resisting arrest when he was taken into custody. On February 9, 2021, he entered no contest pleas to the vandalism and resisting arrest charges, and was given a 32-day jail sentence.
September 26, 2021, he was arrested for burglary and three counts of obstructing or resisting police officers as he was taken into custody. On September 29, 2021, he pleaded not guilty to all four charges but on May 26, 2022 he entered a guilty plea on the burglary charge and was sentenced to 488 days in jail, including the nearly 8 months he had already been incarcerated.
On March 29, 2023, according to court records, Lopez-Hernandez was engaged in the theft of personal property when he was confronted by an Upland police officer. In the course of his arrest, it is alleged he engaged in felony resistance and obstruction of a police officer and a felony attempt to remove a firearm from the police officer.
Lopez-Hernandez is charged with killing Adams on May 21. He was formally charged with murder on May 24. He is scheduled for a pre-preliminary hearing before Judge Richard Peel V on May 31 in Department R15 and for a preliminary hearing on June 5, also in Department R15.
During the course of his prosecution on the burglary and three resisting arrest charges stemming from the September 26, 2021 incident in Montclair, the court subjected Lopez-Hernandez to a medical evaluation by a psychiatrist.
The sheriff’s department has not offered, nor is it likely to offer, an explanation of why Lopez-Hernandez and Adams were housed in the same cell.
The department has long struggled with just how to deal with recurrent inmate-on-inmate violence within its jail system.
Through happenstance and trial and error, the department learned that chemical sedation of a percentage of the jail population most prone to violence offered at least a partial solution to this dilemma.
By the late 1980s, it was recognized that relatively low dosages of a combination of methamphetamine and heroin, variously referred to as a speedball or screwball, rendered individuals using it complacent. By the early 1990s, the denizens of San Bernardino County’s jails could purchase through the holding institutions’ concession machines a methamphetamine-heroin blend, known as “jailhouse mix.” As the means to inject the substance was not available inside the sheriff’s detention facilities, inmates could either snort or smoke it, although snorting, or inhaling, it was discouraged because that was considered too conspicuous. Also available from the jails’ concession machines at that time were cigarettes. Inmates would remove a portion of the tobacco, sprinkle into it the jailhouse mix, and then repack the methamphetamine-and-heroin-saturated tobacco into the cigarettes before smoking the re-rolls. Almost instantly and for several hours, the smoker would be rendered into a docile, non-confrontational state.
That approach toward controlling the behavior of the inmate population elapsed later in the 1990s when smoking in the jails was banned.
The modern method of reducing violence in its jails used by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department consists of relying on the administration of prescribed psychoactive drugs to render problematic elements of the inmate population within the jail system manageable. San Bernardino County’s jailers dole out a host of psychoactive drugs to inmates, including sedatives, tranquilizers or anti-psychotic agents.
The inmates commonly refer to these drugs as Skittles, because of their coloration and visual similarity to the fruit-flavored candy produced by the William Wrigley Jr. Candy Company. Not all of the inmates are amenable to being administered these drugs, which leave those taking them in a zombie-like or near catatonic state.
The Sentinel has been told by inmates at the West Valley Detention Center that it is a common practice for jailers to monitor those housed in their units for any signs of aggression or hostility. If inmates fight or engage merely in the exchange of angry words with one another, they will be sent for counseling by one of the jail’s psychiatrists. Commonly, the psychiatrist prescribes for the inmates one of several drugs, including Thorazine. Inmates who prove uncooperative and refuse to take the medication prescribed to them are then routinely confronted by the jail guards who let it be known that if the inmate refuses to take the prescribed medication, privileges for all inmates in that dormitory – phone access, day room, yard access, exercise facilities and television – will be cut off. This inevitably results in the intransigent inmate being confronted by his fellow prisoners who insist that he simply relent and take his Skittles. Those who yet refuse will be met with threats of violence or actual violence, which the guards overlook. In this way, administration of the behavior-modifying medication in the jail is achieved.
Though the intensity and full range of effect of the various types of drugs used in this fashion can vary individual to individual, they generally achieve the desired results from the department’s standpoint. Inmates have told the Sentinel that they have both willingly and reluctantly complied with taking the drugs they were supplied while incarcerated at the West Valley Detention Center and other county jails and holding facilities. One inmate told the Sentinel that he found the side effects of Thorazine particularly objectionable.
He said the drug left “me basically in a tongue-tied, slobbering, invalid state.”
The Sentinel is aware of at least some circumstances involving inmates whose psychiatric case files kept by the department contain no documentation or certification indicating that the dosages of drugs they were prescribed were indicated by their condition or appropriate. For that reason, the county, the department, the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health, the psychiatrists the sheriff’s department contracts with and the healthcare corporations which employ those psychiatrists have steadfastly refused over the last seven years to discuss the practice of administering psychoactive drugs to inmates in the jails either with those inmates’ consent or against their will.
Given the affinity that Lopez-Hernandez and Adams both had for drugs, it may not have been advisable to prescribe either of them the sedatives, tranquilizers or anti-psychotic agents the department normally relies upon. It is not actually known whether or not Lopez-Hernandez and Adams were being medicated during their recent incarceration and the days leading up to and the day of Adams’ death.
What is known is that the department chose to house the 5-foot 11-inch 190 pound 26-year-old Lopez-Hernandez, who has a history of making threats of killing or doing great bodily injury to some of those he encounters, with Adams, who has himself threatened others with similar acts of violence. The Sentinel is told that Lopez-Hernandez got the drop on Adams and slammed him to the concrete floor of their cell, killing him.
A tough-talking 56-year-old man from Upland ended up dead on Sunday after he was put in a jail cell with a man 30 years his junior.