OCDA: No Foul Play in Man’s Death After Brawl With Orange Policemen

OC DA Todd Spitzer

Orange policeman Anthony Castañeda patrolled the city during the early morning hours of January 31 when he caught a glimpse of a man walking in the street. The officer made a brief stop at Circle S Food Market on Chapman Avenue before getting into his patrol car again. Castañeda saw the man in the street again and decided to pull over to check on his well-being.

After initially running away, Jose Albert Aguirre complied with the officer’s questioning, providing his name and politely stating he wasn’t on probation or parole. But the civility proved short-lived in what became a fatal encounter with police.

“Put that cigarette out while I’m talking to you,” Castañeda told Aguirre soon after.

“Might as well let it be my last cigarette,” Aguirre responded.

It ended up being just that. According to a report released by the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) this week, officer Castañeda repeatedly told Aguirre to stay seated, but he got up and started walking away. The policeman put his hand on Aguirre’s shoulder who turned around and punched him in the face.

Aguirre landed more punches and tried running away. Castañeda made an emergency call for backup before tackling him down to the ground. By the time officer Joseph Garcia arrived on scene, Aguirre had the upper hand so much so that he feared for his colleague’s life. Garcia took his baton and started striking Aguirre but the whacks had little effect as the officer told investigators he appeared to have “superhuman strength.”

Pepper spraying Aguirre’s face from about a foot away gave the policemen the advantage. Garcia continued to pummel him when another officer arrived. Together, they cuffed Aguirre and tied his legs up in a Hobble restraint. A minute later, more policemen came. That’s when one took Aguirre’s pulse and found a rapid heart rate. Another minute passed and he became limp, unresponsive and registered no pulse.

Paramedics arrived and took Aguirre to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange where a doctor pronounced him dead later that morning. An autopsy report found that Aguirre died of a meth overdose and even found a baggie of meth in his intestines.

With that, the OCDA closed its inquiry without filing charges against the officers involved with Aguirre’s deadly arrest. “It is our conclusion that there is no evidence to support a finding of criminal culpability,” the report states.

As always, read the report in its entirety online.

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