RICHMOND — Circumventing a demanded impartial critique, the Contra Costa Sheriff’s place of work declared accidental the death of a guy who passed out after remaining overwhelmed by police, this information group has uncovered.
Jose Luis Lopez-Rodriguez, 40, died in a hospital March 19, 2020, two days soon after Richmond officers tackled him and struck him with batons and fists, though making an attempt to arrest him for allegedly assaulting his estranged girlfriend. 6 months afterwards, the sheriff’s office qualified the death as an accident triggered by “acute cocaine toxicity” and “excited delirium” – the latter of which is a disputed healthcare principle that at minimum three health practitioner groups have turned down as an improper signifies of writing off deaths induced by police violence.
With its final decision, the sheriff’s office bypassed an inquest – a demo in which a jury decides the official fashion of dying of those who die in custody or in incidents where by legislation enforcement brokers are included. For 40 many years, that process has acted in Contra Costa County as a check out to make sure that reviews of law enforcement-related fatalities are thorough and clear.
The odd dealing with of the Lopez-Rodriguez scenario has led to a surprising round of finger-pointing between law enforcement organizations: The Richmond Law enforcement Department and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Business office have accused the sheriff’s business office of unilaterally bypassing the inquest approach. The sheriff’s business office has denied that accusation.
Inquests are intended to be held in each and every case that has even “tangential” legislation enforcement connections, Matthew Guichard, an lawyer who typically serves as the presiding officer for inquests, stated at the county’s most modern listening to on the make any difference.
Lopez-Rodriguez’s dying matches the general narrative at the rear of most cases that involve inquests – as properly as several so-referred to as fired up delirium fatalities. All-around 2:40 p.m. March 17, 2020, law enforcement were named to a house on South 9th Street, where it was claimed Lopez-Rodriguez was attacking his estranged girlfriend. When officers arrived, Lopez-Rodriguez resisted them, law enforcement explained in a information launch at the time.
The coroner’s report states officers “piled” on leading of Lopez-Rodriguez, hanging him with batons and fists. He suffered bruises on his torso, arms and legs, and burst blood vessels in his eyes. During the struggle, he tried to get an officer’s gun, Richmond law enforcement Sgt. Aaron Pomeroy reported.
For the duration of the wrestle, Lopez-Rodriguez appeared to go through healthcare distress, but was equipped to wander to an ambulance, Pomeroy explained. The moment within the ambulance, he went unconscious and was rushed to the Kaiser clinic in Richmond. He died two times afterwards. The autopsy later discovered cocaine in his process.
The enthusiastic delirium prognosis – produced by pathologist Dr. Ikechi Ogan, who contracts with the sheriff’s workplace – is one denounced by the AMA as unsupported by scientific proof. The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic handbook does not list it as a problem, and a analyze introduced Tuesday by the Doctors for Human Rights found it is not a “valid, unbiased medical or psychiatric diagnosis” and “cannot be disentangled from its racist and unscientific origins.”
“It’s junk science which is masquerading all-around as accurate scientific info,” reported Adante Pointer, a civil rights legal professional who focuses largely on law enforcement use of pressure cases. “Excited delirium in no way appears to be to take place apart from in situations when the law enforcement are associated and they’ve been manhandling, wrestling and working with force versus folks.”
The PHR review prominently cites as suspect a different of Ogan’s autopsies, when he uncovered psyched delirium brought about the death of 30-yr-outdated Angelo Quinto, who went unconscious and died following a wrestle with Antioch police officers in December 2020. People findings had been designed community at a 2021 coroner’s inquest, drawing gasps from a packed audience largely there to help Quinto’s family members.
Since Lopez-Rodriguez went unconscious, police invoked what is acknowledged as the LEIFI – for law-enforcement included deadly incident – protocol on March 17, in anticipation of his eventual demise. The concerned officers have been independently interviewed by investigators with Richmond law enforcement and the DA’s business office, in accordance to spokesmen from equally businesses.
The county’s protocol manual dictates that in scarce scenarios where by inquest hearings aren’t held, the District Attorney, Sheriff’s business, and associated legislation enforcement company all ought to concur an inquest is not essential.
But that didn’t come about in this situation – and there is sharp disagreement as to why.
Jimmy Lee, a spokesman for the sheriff’s business office, at first advised this information group that the responsibility for the decision lies with the Richmond law enforcement.
“While this scenario was regulation enforcement linked, RPD declined to invoke protocol, which intended there would be no inquest into the demise,” he claimed in an electronic mail to this newspaper.
Both of those the DA’s place of work and Richmond law enforcement denied this.
“The coroner’s inquest was their choice and they selected not to do a coroner’s inquest,” Pomeroy, the Richmond Law enforcement Sgt., said in an interview, referring to the sheriff’s office environment. “Richmond PD and the DA’s business office did a (LEIFI) protocol. Everything was performed as normal, as ordinary as a result of this full issue till the sheriff’s office environment failed to do an inquest.”
Pomeroy explained that in 2021, he asked a captain with the sheriff’s business why no inquest was held. The captain explained some thing to the influence of, “I’ll have to get back again to you on that,” then hardly ever followed up and has because retired, Pomeroy said.
When questioned to react to Pomeroy’s comments, Lee appeared to modify his preliminary opinions, telling this news organization that the DA’s business advised the sheriff there would be no inquest. But an e-mail attained by this newspaper exhibits that a DA inspector achieved out to the sheriff’s place of work about the inquest position Jan. 26. On Feb. 7, a sheriff’s deputy with the coroner’s business responded, “No inquest – the way and lead to of demise has been finished and the dying certification has been filed with the state.”
Nevetheless, the DA’s business office suggests it is investigating the scenario and expects to launch a report later this calendar year.
“Despite the deficiency of an inquest, the Workplace of the District Legal professional intends to finalize our factual conclusions and legal evaluation, and publish our LEIFI report,” Assistant District Attorney Simon O’Connell claimed in an electronic mail to this newspaper.