OC DA Sees No Harm, No Foul by Anaheim Police in Custodial Death of Homeless Man
On Halloween 2012, Alan Douglas Bluck got drunk. After he passed out next to an empty bottle of vodka, Anaheim police arrested the homeless man for public intoxication. Early the following morning, a guard found Bluck unresponsive in the city jail and doctors later pronounced him dead at a nearby hospital.
As is customary by the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA), the agency investigated the custodial-related death clearing all involved in the jailing and booking of Bluck.
According to the report, Anaheim policeman Andre Pedroza had to help a tipsy Bluck stand up during booking.
With no complaints of ill-health, Bluck sat in the "drunk tank" before being fingerprinted. Later in the evening, he lay in a holding cell, watched over by an Officer Miranda (whose first name is not given in the OCDA report). For transient safety, public intoxication releases are held off until the daylight hours as opposed to the general 4-6 hour frame.
Miranda performed hourly checks on Bluck, until he became concerned by his greyish appearance around 3 a.m. Alerting his supervisor, Miranda opened the cell and determined that Bluck was not breathing. Paramedics were called and took Bluck to Western Medical Center in Anaheim, where doctors pronounced dead.
An autopsy noted the cause of death as "alcoholic cardiomyopathy." In layman's terms, Bluck died from heart failure from long-term booze abuse.
The OCDA took the autopsy results and coupled them with their investigative findings to conclude in a five-page report released this week that no criminal negligence nor malice occurred in the course of the Anaheim Police Department's duty of care owed to Bluck.
The investigative letter can be read in its entirety online.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz