Crime - Sacto 911

Autopsy: Drugs, restraints caused death of Marshall Miles, who became unresponsive in Sacramento jail

An autopsy report released Friday by the Sacramento County Coroner found that physical exertion, drug intoxication and restraint by law enforcement were factors in the death of 36-year-old Marshall Miles, who died Nov. 1 after a prolonged struggle with deputies at the Sacramento County Main Jail.

The coroner listed his official cause of death as “complications of cardiopulmonary arrest during restraint and mixed drug intoxication,” noting the presence of narcotics in his system and blunt force injuries to his body.

Miles was arrested Oct. 28 when several 911 callers reported him jumping on cars and acting erratically several days before in the area of Watt Avenue and A Street in North Highlands. On that Sunday night in late October, Miles was transported to the Sacramento County Main Jail where security camera and handheld camera footage showed him being restrained and struggling with officers during the booking process.

Miles later became unresponsive on a cell floor less than a minute after deputies carried him there, according to video of the incident.

Deputies and fire personnel performed CPR and attempted to resuscitate him using a defibrillator, video shows, before he was taken to Sutter Medical Center just after midnight Oct. 29. Soon after, doctors performed a CT scan that found “findings consistent with global hypoxic anoxic injury,” a partial or total lack of oxygen to the brain, according previous reporting by The Sacramento Bee.

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Marshall Miles, 36, died Nov. 1 becoming unresponsive while in jail custody days before. Berry Accius

He died four days later after sheriff’s officials granted a “compassionate release” to the comatose Miles, allowing him to die with his family and without authorities present.

Miles’ toxicology report, included in Friday’s release, showed he had measurable amounts of narcotics in his system at the time of his death, including methamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine, tobacco and marijuana.

The autopsy report also detailed “clusters” of abrasions on Miles wrists and ankles, as well as hemorrhages. Several of his ribs were also fractured, which “may represent injury due to resuscitative efforts,” the report said.

The Sacramento County Coroner was not immediately available for comment.

Berry Accius, a community activist, responded to the report: “That’s why we continue to call out the excessive force used by law enforcement. (The autopsy report) is saying exactly what we said. If you didn’t restrain him the way you restrained him and as he asked for help and assistance. You didn’t treat him. You treated him after the fact, after he was dead. There has to be some liability for that.”

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department released videos of the incident Dec. 3, its first ever release of footage in a critical incident.

“We thoroughly outlined the incident and what took place in the video that we released to the public,” Sgt. Shaun Hampton, spokesman for the sheriff’s department, said Friday afternoon. “And that video contains all the footage related to that incident.”

The videos shows Miles speaking rapidly and breathing heavily throughout his encounter with law enforcement.

When he arrives at the jail, Miles falls to his knees and appears to struggle with deputies, who then put restraints on Miles and carry him by his arms and legs, telling him to stop struggling. At one point, Miles yells, “I cannot breathe.” At another, he shouts, “Give me some air.”

“You’re breathing fine,” a deputy replies as officers struggle to subdue him. The deputies ultimately hogtie his ankles and wrists together behind his back.

Miles continues to struggle as deputies carry him during his booking. He is later carried to a cell where at least five deputies surround him as he is placed face down on the floor while they work to release him from the restraints. The deputies continue to give Miles orders not to struggle as they unlock his cuffs and then back out of the cell. Miles is seen motionless and silent before they release the restraints and as they leave the cell.

The release of the videos came after months of pressure on Sheriff Scott Jones, who has previously refused to release footage of officer-involved shootings and other critical incidents, and who waged a successful campaign to shut down the county inspector general’s efforts to provide oversight of such events.

Narration by the Sheriff’s Department in the video says that “seconds later” a sergeant noticed Miles appeared to have stopped breathing. The video appears to show a 39-second lapse of time from when the cell door originally was closed to when deputies rush back in to check on the inmate, who remained motionless, face down and silent during that time.

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