Family Sues in Death of Man Struck by Police : ‘Excessive Force,’ Failure to Give Aid Alleged in Action Naming Santa Ana, County, Others

Times Staff Writer

The family of a Santa Ana man who died after police struck him in the head with a night stick sued the city, Orange County and others Friday, alleging that “excessive and unreasonable force” and failure to render medical aid caused his death.

The Superior Court suit over the death of Ezequiel Flores Larios last July does not specify the amount of damages sought, but a previous claim filed with Santa Ana sought $5 million. The city denied the claim last November.

The suit accuses Officers Steve Allegre and John Follo, who also were named as defendants, of acting “in such an unreasonable and dangerous manner” that serious injury and death could be foreseen.


Fled on Foot

Last July 7, the two officers had approached Larios, 25, who was sitting in a parked car, to question him about “possible narcotics activity.” Larios sped away and later left the car to flee on foot. The officers chased him.

When he resisted arrest, the officers struck him several times on the head with their night sticks, police said. Two youths, who said they saw the arrest, claimed that the officers struck Larios both before and after they handcuffed him even though Larios pleaded with them to stop, saying he had had enough.

Neither city police nor Orange County Jail employees sent Larios for medical attention, the suit alleges, until he collapsed in jail.

The suit also claims that defendants Western Medical Center in Santa Ana and UCI Medical Center in Orange negligently providedmedical care.

Autopsy Performed

An autopsy by the sheriff-coroner’s office revealed that Larios had taken a “substantial amount” of PCP as well as some cocaine and other drugs, which police said made him combative.

The district attorney’s office cleared the officers of any criminal wrongdoing, though one of the blows was determined to have caused Larios’ death. The office also cleared sheriff’s deputies of blame for allegedly failing to provide medical attention soon enough. Deputies sent Larios to the hospital as soon as they “detected his problem,” a prosecutor said.

Plaintiffs in the action include Larios’ parents, Yolanda and Ezequiel Sr.; two sons, Ezequiel Jr. and Ricardo; common-law wife, Maria Garcia, and his brother, Ernesto.

The suit also includes a claim by Ramon Montes, Larios’ brother-in-law, that the same two police officers beat him in apparently separate incidents on April 16, 1984, as well as on the day Larios was arrested.