A 32-year-old Buena Park man died shortly after he was arrested and placed in handcuffs by Stanton police officers, officials said Wednesday.
The victim, identified as Jimmy Joseph Sanchez, was arrested Tuesday night at a Stanton apartment in the 10600 block of Knott Avenue. Police said Sanchez "became violent" and started striking out at other people in the upstairs apartment.
Two officers, called to the scene by neighbors, arrested Sanchez and put him in handcuffs about 9:25 p.m., Stanton Police Capt. Leonard Haworth said.
"He seemed to calm down after that, but then he stopped breathing," said Haworth.
Sanchez was taken by ambulance to Midwood Community Hospital in Stanton, where he was pronounced dead at 10:45 p.m.
Haworth said drugs were suspected as the cause of Sanchez's death but that a final determination would have to await an autopsy.
Officers Not Identified
The police captain declined to release the names of the two arresting officers. "We have no reason to believe arresting officers did anything wrong," he said. "No weapons were used; there was no chokehold."
Zoilo McCrocklin of Cypress said Wednesday that he was in the apartment when police arrived. McCrocklin, in an interview, said Sanchez was nauseated and that was why he suddenly became ill and needed paramedics.
"Jimmy (Sanchez) was vomiting because he was drunk," McCrocklin said. He confirmed police accounts that "no chokehold was used" on Sanchez by the arresting officers.
However, McCrocklin and his brother, John, said police pressed Sanchez's face against a couch while restraining him, making breathing difficult. After he was restrained and handcuffed, Sanchez's girlfriend, Soccorro, McCrocklin's sister, noticed that he was having difficulty breathing, they said.
"She said to the officers, 'He's not breathing, he's not breathing. His hands are turning blue,' " McCrocklin said. But both officers said at the time that Sanchez was all right, the brothers said.
Placed on Gurney
Paramedics arrived a few minutes later and placed Sanchez on a gurney with an aluminum-frame stretcher strapped over him while still handcuffed, they said.
McCrocklin said his sister, also of Cypress, was engaged to Sanchez and was with him at the apartment of their brother, Joe McCrocklin, at the time of the incident.
"She can't talk about it now," Zoilo McCrocklin said. "She is in deep grief."
The autopsy was being conducted by the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner's Department. Final results were not expected for several months until after the examiners' findings are reviewed, a common procedure in officer-involved deaths. Coroner's officials declined comment Wednesday.
"Due to the nature of the death, all information (regarding this case) will be released by Stanton police," a coroner's spokesman said.
Witnesses said Sanchez was quiet most of the time. He appeared drunk and admitted being "wasted," said Mike Reese, 32, who also was at the apartment with his girlfriend, Glenda Moore, 33.
They said Sanchez went berserk after the telephone rang, tried to strike other men, women and a 13-year old girl in the apartment. They said he smashed the phone and threw household objects from the second-story apartment door.
"I don't know what could have provoked (him)," Reese said. "I've never seen anything like that."
Everyone left the apartment in fright, except for Joe McCrocklin, who tried to subdue Sanchez. Sanchez calmed down at the arrival of his girlfriend, who was summoned by phone to the scene, witnesses said. Neighbors said Sanchez quieted down for about 15 minutes, until police arrived. When he resumed his rampage, officers tried to restrain him.
Haworth said that no one else in the apartment was arrested and that no drugs were found on the premises. He said that the original complaint of a disturbance came from neighbors and that when officers arrived at the scene, Sanchez was fighting with the other people in the apartment.
The Orange County district attorney's office, which frequently is called by cities to investigate officer-involved fatalities, was not asked by Stanton to investigate the Sanchez death, Deputy Dist. Atty. Maurice Evans said Wednesday.
"Most of the time we are asked to come in," Evans said. "We respond when we're invited."