San Diego Cops Cleared in Death
Tony Manolatos, STAFF WRITER
The San Diego Union-Tribune
The county District Attorney cleared San Diego police yesterday in the February death of a man who was stunned by a Taser gun and died two days later at a hospital.
The Medical Examiner's Office labeled the death of 45-year-old Robert Fidalgo Camba as a homicide. The cause of death is listed as a lack of oxygen to the brain.
"The Taser isn't what killed him, it had more to do with what was going on with his intoxication, his excited delirium and his being restrained," said Jessica Boyer, an investigator for the medical examiner.
"Our office did determine the manner of death as a homicide," she said. "That just means that a person was involved in the death of another person. And it's the district attorney's job to determine if there was wrongdoing."
In a letter to Police Chief William Lansdowne, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis wrote: "Although the medical examiner concluded that the manner of death was homicide, we conclude that the officers bear no criminal liability for their actions since we cannot say that their conduct was unlawful under the facts and circumstances of the incident."
Camba was living downtown at the Plaza Hotel on Fourth Avenue. Officers Carl Pira and Esmeralda Tagaban went there Feb. 10 because of a reported disturbance. They found Camba in his room, naked, thrashing around on the floor, sweating profusely and foaming at the mouth.
Police said the officers tried to subdue Camba with a baton, then used the Taser twice, before handcuffing him. As paramedics arrived, Camba fell limp, his breathing became shallow and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was initiated.
Camba was taken to a hospital and was found to have methamphetamine and cocaine in his system, authorities said. He died Feb. 12.
Dumanis said a number of circumstances came together and could have contributed to Camba's death: his pre-existing physical condition; acute drug intoxication; a violent struggle; the Taser; and maximum restraint.
"Any or all of these factors may have contributed in some way to his death," she said.
Hotel workers said Camba had been there about two weeks after being referred by an outreach program. They said Camba had health issues, but they were unsure of specifics.
Friends and family could not be reached.
San Diego police started using Tasers about a year ago. The weapons are described as nonlethal stun guns that deliver a 50,000-volt shock.
"It has resulted in about 10 arrests where lethal force would have been the (only) option. So it's really saving lives," Lansdowne said yesterday.
Some medical experts believe shocks from a Taser can add to the risk of heart failure, especially if a person has been taking drugs. While some police agencies across the country consider a temporary moratorium on Tasers, Amnesty International has called for a suspension of the weapons, citing a lack of testing to determine safety.
"We do not believe the use of the Taser contributed to (Camba's) death," Lansdowne said in February.
Yesterday, the police chief said, "Unfortunately, for some people in such ill health -- combined with drug use -- any physical excursion can result in death."
I guess they didnt get the memo on Positional asphyxia and cocaine intoxication? If your suspect is on coke and has been fighting, no hog tying and do not cuff behind the back and place face down which is nearly as bad as hog tying. Put the susect in the same "rescue" position you were trained to use after using the caratoid control hold.
They knew he was on coke?
Positional asphyxia myth?
No rescue postiion taught here, and carotoid is not authorized (cept for lethal purposes).
We consider Carotoid the same level of force as control holds here.
Must be nice.....any holds on the neck are considred lethal force here.
WooHoo !!!!! Light em up boys !!
I believe LAPD adopted the same policy. Our policy is it's a control hold. But you never use it on the same suspect more than once in 24hours, you observe the subject for 20mins afterwards and notify the jail staff that it was used upon booking.
The couple times i have used it it worked great and the BG woke up in cuffs wondering how the hell he got that way. Way better than just throwing blows which just leaves the suspect beat up and me sore for two days afterwards.