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Death Blamed on Injuries Received in Arrest by Huntington Park Police

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office has ruled that a Huntington Park man died of injuries he received when he was taken into custody by Huntington Park police in September.

Acacio Ramirez, who also used the name Jose Robles, died Sept. 15 from “blunt force body trauma” suffered when police restrained him, Los Angeles County coroner’s spokesman Bob Dambacher said Wednesday. An autopsy also revealed alcohol and cocaine in Ramirez’s body at the time of death, Dambacher said.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is investigating the case, Deputy Dist. Atty. Thomas A. Gray said.

Acting Huntington Park Police Chief Charles Plum said he had not yet seen the coroner’s report on Ramirez’s death and declined comment on the case pending completion of an internal investigation and the district attorney’s investigation.

The arresting officers in the case, Peter McGuire and Roy Segura, were placed on paid administrative leave shortly after the death. The department is still considering whether to take disciplinary action in the case, according to Craig Robinson, assistant city administrator.

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The case is the latest incident in which Huntington Park police officers have been accused of using excessive force.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury last week convicted two former officers of torturing a teen-age burglary suspect with an electric stun gun to extract a confession. A $10-million federal lawsuit in the case is pending against the city.

Ramirez, 32, died at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood less than two hours after police went to his house to investigate a domestic dispute and arrested him.

Police said officers went to Ramirez’s Seville Avenue residence after his girlfriend, Judith Quan, walked into the police station and reported that Ramirez had physically abused her. She requested assistance to remove her belongings, police said. Ramirez, a machinist, was separated from his wife, Williamson said.

Lt. Frank Sullivan said that when the officers arrived, Ramirez became angry and reached toward Quan. Sullivan said the officers fought with Ramirez before they handcuffed him and took him to the police station, where he was placed in a booking cell.

Paramedics were called after a lieutenant saw Ramirez was having trouble breathing. He was taken by ambulance to St. Francis. Ramirez was to have been booked for investigation of battering Quan and resisting arrest, police said.

Ramirez’s survivors tried to file a $6-million lawsuit Wednesday against the city and the arresting officers, alleging that the two policemen used excessive force that led to Ramirez’s death. The Superior Court lawsuit was to be filed on behalf of Ramirez’s two children, ages 6 and 4.

However, a judge blocked the filing over the issue of whether the children should be represented by their uncle or their mother, said attorney Peter M. Williamson. The lawsuit will be filed in the next few days, he said.

The suit alleges that McGuire and Segura struck Ramirez on the head several times with their batons while he was handcuffed and seated on the sofa of his duplex. The suit also alleges that the officers further assaulted Ramirez while he was in custody.

The “beating of (Ramirez) by defendants McGuire and Segura was entirely unjustified by any actions of (Ramirez) and constituted an unreasonable and excessive use of deadly force,” the lawsuit says.

Former Huntington Park Police Officers William J. Lustig and Robert Rodriguez were convicted last week of torturing Jaime Ramirez, 18, with an electric stun gun to extract a confession that he had stolen car stereo parts.

Jaime Ramirez, who is not related to Acacio Ramirez, has filed a $10-million federal lawsuit against the city, Lustig, Rodriguez and other defendants, alleging that his civil rights were violated when he was arrested Nov. 30, 1986, on suspicion of burglary.

The two officers, who were fired last December, face a maximum of three years in prison when they are sentenced Jan. 13.


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