Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento police release video in the death of a man tackled by residents

Screenshot from bodycam video provided by the Sacramento Police Department.
Screenshot from bodycam video provided by the Sacramento Police Department. Screenshot

The Sacramento Police Department on Tuesday released video of an incident in which a man died in handcuffs early last month.

The video release complied with the new city ordinance that requires footage of officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths to be made public within 30 days, said Sgt. Bryce Heinlein, a department spokesman. Heinlein said the man became unresponsive during his arrest.

“He was having difficulty breathing, and that’s when the officers recognized that he was having a medical emergency,” Heinlein said. “Because we put handcuffs on him, it constitutes a being placed in custody.”

The man, who died days after the incident, was identified by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office as Erik Mencarini, 37. Police say they received reports about Mencarini on Sept. 6 after neighbors near the 3000 block of Great Falls Way told officers a man was acting violently towards residents in the area.

A total of seven videos, including footage from both body-worn cameras and dash-cameras, were included in the release. Police also made 911 calls and dispatcher audio recordings in connection to the incident public.

In one of the 911 calls released by the department, a woman who identifies herself as an apartment manager tells dispatchers a homeless man started a fight with one of the complex’s residents in the parking lot and that he broke some windows. Another caller states a homeless man threw a boulder at her van and that her neighbors were chasing him.

The first officer arrived at the scene at 4:02 p.m. and was directed to the area where he saw community members holding a man down on the front lawn of a home at the 8400 block of Denison Court, the police department said.

Video footage of the first officer at the scene shows the patrolman running up to the lawn, where one man is seen kneeling over Mencarini, waiting for police to arrive. Mencarini is heard wheezing in the video as the officer tells the community member that they need to put Mencarini’s hands behind his back. More officers arrive to the scene.

One video, which is not timestamped, shows two officers standing over Mercarini, with one officer saying that his skin looks blue. They roll him onto his back, while still handcuffed, and one officer begins chest compressions.

After a short while, emergency responders with the Sacramento Fired Department take over the chest compressions and eventually load Mercarini into an ambulance. Mercarini died four days later after he was taken off of life support, police said.

Both homicide and crime scene investigators responded to the scene due to the seriousness of the incident, the department said in the initial news release. None of the citizens involved in Mencarini’s arrest faced any charges or arrests in connection to the incident as of Tuesday afternoon, the department noted.

The case will be forwarded to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office for a review of the “facts and circumstances surrounding the use of force by the citizens prior to police arrival,” the department said.

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets

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