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"With drugs?" the dispatcher asks.
"Yeah," the officer answers.
At the station, Schliskey's report says Tuan continued to resist and struggle and was placed into a restraint chair. "It took approximately five or six officers to hold [Tuan] until we could get him seated in the restraint chair and his feet and legs secured in the chair's soft restraints," Schliskey reported. Gensler returned for a second evaluation. Based on Tuan's claim that he had smoked a "dipped" joint, Gensler felt even more certain that Tuan was operating under the influence of PCP.
Gensler's analysis may have led police to act cautiously around Tuan. But it was based in part on the misconception that PCP is the only drug that creative drug users dip. In fact, Uchimura explained, dipping "is a very, very potent way of delivering cocaine. [Users] take a solution and stick it right into the cigarette or whatever the joint is."
During his time in the Westminster Jail drunk tank, Tuan was monitored by Schliskey. Bruce D. Praet, an attorney representing the police department, explained that "during detoxification . . . individuals are generally checked every 15 minutes. In this case, [Tuan] was only at the Westminster PD for a relatively brief period during which he was never left unattended."
Praet acknowledged that "it is generally recommended that an officer have a combative arrestee suspected of being under the influence of drugs examined by paramedics." But police didn't call for paramedics until 12:35 a.m. on Oct. 11, when Tuan's physical condition began to deteriorate rapidly. According to his report, Schliskey observed that Tuan was warm to the touch, sweating and had a high pulse rate. Paramedics reportedly found Tuan "seizing" "in restraints" and ordered him moved to Huntington Beach Medical Center. Already overdosing, Tuan's heart rate may have rocketed to 300 beats per minute, Uchimura says. It's little surprise, then, that on his way to the hospital, Tuan went into cardiac arrest.
By the time Tuan arrived at the hospital at 1:05 a.m., he was unconscious. Examiners determined that his airway was blocked, that he had lost and regained consciousness several times and had suffered recurrent seizures, and that he had fluid in his lungs, which is evidence of severe oxygen deprivation and a sign of illicit drug use.
The coroner's investigation found that Tuan's death on Oct. 17 was accidental and due to "acute cocaine intoxication." According to a forensic scientist, concentrations of cocaine found in his blood were consistent with other reported fatal cases.
But Uchimura says, "I think in cases such as that, when there's some certainty [of drug abuse], the error should be on the side of taking [the patient] to the hospital, just in case."
In a prepared statement a week after their son's death, Tuan's family said, "If paramedics and officers on scene rushed Tuan to the hospital as repeatedly requested by our family, our son might have lived."
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