One of the defendants in the lawsuit filed by Jerry Lum and Dorathea Timmons on the death of their son, Jeremy, is Phillip Mendoza, a correctional officer with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department.
Mendoza was the officer who processed Jeremy when he was taken to the county jail that fateful night of July 8, 2009 after the then-29-year-old, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was picked up by Lathrop Police on a charge of public drunkenness while suffering a psychotic episode.
Mendoza and Jeremy both grew up in Lathrop and went to school together. They also worked together as teen-agers at Delta Market, the neighborhood grocery store owned and operated by Jeremy’s grandparents, Bicky and Mae Lum, for more than half a century in historic Old Town Lathrop.
“I hired him. He was a good worker,” Mae Lum said, recalling the young man who used to work part-time at her Seventh Street business establishment.
Timmons also recalled that she and Mendoza’s mother, who also now works for the Sheriff’s Department, were both contestants in the Miss Lathrop pageant. Timmons emerged as the winner, with the correctional officer’s mom as runner-up.
In sworn statements in the Lum v. County of San Joaquin, et all, case which is part of the discovery process leading up to a court trial, Mendoza admitted that he falsified Jeremy’s inmate observation log, acknowledging that he failed to follow county policy on checking up a person like Jeremy when they are put in a “sobering cell.”
The Lum family is no stranger to Lathrop Police Services as well. Police offices on Seventh Street occupy half of the building that was once the home of Delta Market which was owned and operated by Mae Lum and her late husband Bicky. Every member of the Lum family, without exception, worked at the business establishment which, for decades, was the only grocery store in town.
The City of Lathrop, which contracts its police services with the Sheriff’s Department, leases part of the Lum building from the family.
Several members of the extended Lum family are quite known in the community as well. Bicky and Mae’s daughter, Connie Lum Perez, has been operating for three decades her Learning Tree preschool business at the opposite end of the building that houses the Police Services. She is also now a candidate for the Lathrop City Council in November. Her husband, Jose, has been a Planning Commissioner for several years.
Jeremy’s father, Jerry, who now manages the Lum family’s investment and property holdings, served as chairman of the Lathrop Municipal Advisory Committee which was the precursor of the Lathrop City Council prior to incorporation.
So, as familiar as the police are with the Lums, why didn’t any of the arresting officers call any member of the family before they arrested and took Jeremy to the county jail? That is one of the questions frequently asked about the tragic incident that led to the untimely demise of Jeremy Lum.