The First Death
We received the following letter just this morning. We deeply morn the loss of ‘Guero,’ the first to die in the hunger strike. He died for more than himself. Killed by his conditions, by this system, we remember him.
It is with a heavy heavy heart I bring you the news that a hunger striker housed in 4B-3L of the Corcorcan SHU, named Billy Michael Sell, more commonly known as ‘Guero’, died on Monday the 22nd of July. I spoke with several prisoners today about him, some that knew him very well and they were very somber and concerned. The prisoners say, “Billy died because of the Hunger Strike". That he was “strong, was a good person, a good soldier" and that the allegations by CDCR that this was a suicide are, “completely out of character for him and that he wasn’t like that" Several guys stated, “No one believes he killed himself" He was supposedly going without water as well as food and may have had other health issues, that is unknown. As stated below, Guero is reported to have started asking for medical attention around the 15th or 16th of July, in which he did not receive and died 4 days later. He is from Riverside but none of the guys knew how to contact his family.
Here is more about him from a letter drafted for the Statewide Medical Executive, Dr. Tharrett:
“We have confirmed that CDCR claims that Billy Sell, P41250, age 32, housed in the Security Housing Unit, allegedly took his own life on July 22, 2013.
According to information we have gathered, Mr. Sell was not under care for mental illness at the time of his death. According to other inmates near his cell, he had been requesting medical attention “for a few days” and had not received it by July 22. The other prisoners who knew Billy confirmed that he was on the hunger strike and said it would be very strange and uncharacteristic of him to take his own life. Inmates said that the guards reported he had hanged himself. The other prisoners doubt the veracity of that story.
So the time has come that we were dreading but also trying to prepare for. No matter how Billy died, his life mattered and I believe that we as a coalition need to respond. I would like to suggest that we do some kind of vigil/press conference/rally at the CDCR building in Oakland, unless that was already being organized. Of course we can talk about this at Mondays meeting but I really think we should start thinking of ideas now.
I know that the mediation team is preparing look into further investigation on the legal front, so we will see what happens with that. In the meantime of any of your loved ones/correspondents/etc. are housed at Corcoran in 4B-3L and they may have some info about this, have known him, heard him requesting medical attention, please let us know.
I hope you all are well and with someone you love
In honor and respect of Billy ‘Guero’ Sell,