No Police Blame Seen in Man’s Death

Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury declared that police acted reasonably in their treatment of 40-year-old Ray Lee Carter, who died in police custody last spring, and said there is no evidence to prove any criminal liability in the Oxnard man’s death.

Bradbury made his announcement Friday after his office’s review of the circumstances surrounding Carter’s sudden death May 6 after his arrest.

Carter, a self-employed handyman, was staggering down the street muttering to himself when police noticed his behavior and tried to talk to him.

He lashed out, and the officers used pepper spray to subdue him.


He died less than 10 minutes later.

Earlier this month, his 9-year-old daughter filed a $1.3-million federal civil-rights lawsuit against the cities of Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

The suit claims that police from both cities who were involved in the arrest deprived her father of his civil rights and necessary medical treatment.

Pepper spray has been linked to more than two dozen deaths in California over a five-year period, according to a Times review last year of in-custody deaths.


Experts told The Times that large men, those weighing more than 250 pounds, are at higher risk. Carter was 6-foot-2 and weighed 280 pounds.

Other factors such as alcohol, drugs, and heart conditions have contributed to the pepper-spray deaths, they said. Ventura County Medical Examiner Ronald O’Halloran said last week that Carter’s death was not caused by the pepper spray but by an abnormal heart rate and too little oxygen in his blood.

A coroner’s report said that on the day of his death Carter had cocaine in his system, but his niece, Sheila Boyd, said that her uncle had never used cocaine to her knowledge.