Over the weekend, a 46-year-old homeless man died while Anaheim police tried to arrest him. Officers began receiving calls on Saturday around 5:30 p.m. about a man acting “bizarrely” near the 1000 block of West Lincoln Avenue. He reportedly ran in and out of traffic and appeared to want to get struck by a car, according to one caller.
Two officers dispatched to the scene and found him at a nearby parking. Police say the man continued to behave erratically when approached. They attempted to arrest and handcuff him when a brief struggle ensued. Less than a minute later, officers noticed their arrestee-to-be had gone into medical distress and began live-saving efforts. Paramedics arrived on scene and transported the man to a nearby hospital where a doctor pronounced him deceased.
Anaheim police state that the arresting officers used basic control holds in rolling the man, who authorities haven’t yet publicly named, onto his stomach. Unlike a previous fatal encounter with another homeless man two years ago, the department stresses that cops never applied a carotid restraint hold or used their Tasers in the incident. Both wore body cameras that were activated prior to making contact.
In July 2016, Anaheim police used carotid restraint holds and Tasers when arresting Vincent Valenzuela, a 32-year-old homeless man who died days later after falling into a coma. More recently, Christopher Eisinger, a 35-year-old homeless man, got pulled off life support in March following an encounter with Anaheim’s finest.
The Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) office cleared cops in Valenzuela’s death. The Eisinger case is still under investigation. Julian Harvey, acting police chief at the time, reviewed body camera footage and claimed no carotid holds, Tasers or forceful strikes had been used on Eisinger.
The latest incident is Anaheim PD’s third officer-involved death this year, coming days after the appointment of new police chief Jorge Cisneros.
As always, the OCDA is investigating the in-custody death. With body camera footage and a new disclosure policy, they’ll be releasing the tale of the tape after deciding whether or not any officers acted criminally in the incident.
Gabriel San Roman is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and tallest Mexican in OC.