Crime - Sacto 911

Suspect who died in custody screamed in streets, peered in windows

Before he was arrested, placed into a police cruiser and taken to jail, the man who died in police custody last week was screaming in the street.

Crouched behind a pickup parked on 19th Street between H and I, the man shouted at police, neighbors, anyone within earshot.

“I’ll do whatever it takes,” he screamed. “Give me one more chance.” The man was recorded in a video taken by resident Todd Kistler, who is a Sacramento Bee copy editor.

The man had been screaming like that before Sacramento police officers arrived just after midnight on Wednesday, witnesses said. He had been knocking on doors and windows, peering into parked cars, calling for help, according to residents who called Sacramento police.

“I’ve never heard someone scream like that,” said Nicole Adelman, who lives on the street where the man was found. “It sounded like he was in agony.”

A few hours later, he was dead. His name was not released.

Sacramento Undersheriff James Lewis said the man resisted police every step of the way: through his arrest and transport, and as police tried to remove him from the cruiser and bring him into the jail to be processed.

He fought with police officers and sheriff’s deputies, Lewis said Tuesday.

“He struggled once he got into the jail,” Lewis said. “We’re trying to get him out of the car in a position that we can take him to the nurse, and in that process he stopped breathing. We administered CPR for a period of seven or eight minutes before emergency personnel arrived.”

It was not immediately clear why medical aid didn’t respond to the initial scene, where witnesses said he continued screaming rabidly even after officers locked him inside a cop car.

An autopsy will ultimately reveal whether the man had drugs in his system at the time of his arrest and subsequent death, but Lewis said methamphetamine had been found on him.

Typically, a suspect being booked into the jail is evaluated by a nurse to determine whether they’re “medically fit” enough to stay at the jail.

The man in this case never made it that far, Lewis said.

Sacramento police declined to comment on the incident Tuesday, citing an ongoing investigation by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

Last week, police spokesman Officer Justin Brown said the man suffered a medical emergency that contributed to his death. The cause will be determined by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.

Call The Bee’s Marissa Lang at (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter at @Marissa_Jae.