Two investigations into death of man following struggle with Antioch Police early Wednesday morning

Mayor Lamar Thorpe prepares to speak at the emergency press conference on Wed., Feb. 24, 2021. KPIX5 news report screenshot.

“According to the officers the man exhibited extraordinary strength” – Chief Brooks

Thorpe announces special Friday night council meeting to expedite discussion of his police reform proposals; reports on investigations will be made public Brooks said

Antioch Police Chief T Brooks speaks at the at emergency press conference Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.

By Allen Payton

At an emergency press conference Wednesday afternoon, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Police Chief Tammany Brooks announced the in-custody death of a 33-year-old Hispanic man following struggles with police in the middle of both Lone Tree Way and James Donlon Blvd., just after midnight, early Wednesday morning. (See CBS KPIX5 broadcast of press conference)

Thorpe was first to speak at the press conference.

“I do want to thank our men and women out patrolling our streets,” he said. “It’s dangerous work.”

“Late last night, I was informed by the chief that an individual they were trying to detain had passed away,” Thorpe continued. He then spoke of an investigation by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office and “a separate independent investigation is underway to see if any of our policies were violated.”

“I offer my deep condolences to the family,” he said. “They will not be able to achieve any comfort and peace until they have the answers that the need as it relates to their loved one. I want the citizens of Antioch to know they will be provided answers.”

“In the event there was any negligence we will seek the fullest effort to ensure there is accountability,” Thorpe stated. “I do believe officers enter the profession to serve. But…there are critical reform measures that need to be implemented.”

The mayor said the city needed to expedite his proposed reforms, which he outlined on Monday. (See related article). He then announced a special council meeting for this Friday at 5:00 pm. “We are going through the reforms,” Thorpe stated “and decide whether the council is going to go forward with those reforms.”

Chief Brooks spoke next, saying police, “This morning just after midnight, the Antioch Police Department received a call from a man rambling incoherently. During the course of the 911 call another man could be heard in the background with the caller arguing over possession of a cell phone.  At one point during the call, there were sounds of a physical struggle as well. Around this same time our Dispatch received a call that a Lyft driver activated a mobile alert and needed police assistance with a subject who attempted to steal his cell phone and fled from the vehicle.”

“Two officers were sent to the area of Lone Tree Way and Ridgerock Drive with very limited information after the man called a second time and gave his location,” he continued. “When officers arrived, the man appeared paranoid, yelling that they were not really police officers, despite the fact they were in fully marked APD police cars and in full uniform. The officers attempted to employ crisis negotiation tactics while trying to de-escalate the situation. After a short time the man ran into oncoming traffic on Lone Tree Way. He attempted to enter a car that was stopped at a red light by pulling on the door handle and banging on the window yelling for the driver to let him inside. After nearly being struck by several vehicles, officers believed the man was putting himself, the public and the officers in eminent danger and moved in, in an effort to try and detain him.”

“The man ran onto the street on James Donlon Blvd. where officers caught up with him. He lost his footing and fell to the ground,” Brooks continued. “A struggle ensued as officers tried to gain control of the man and get him out of the roadway as vehicles continued to pass by them. According to the officers the man exhibited extraordinary strength and they were unable to gain control of his arms. A third officer arrived on scene and deployed his taser which allowed them to overcome the man’s resistance. Almost immediately, after being able to get the subject in handcuffs, he appeared to lose consciousness and the officers recognized this as a medical emergency. Officers immediately began CPR and applied an automated external defibrillator and administered two cannisters of doses of NARCAN, a medication used to counteract the effects of opioid drugs.”

“Based on the knowledge of facts as reported to be me through the investigation thus far, I will share with you no knee or other limb was ever applied to the man’s kneck during this incident,” the chief stated. “There was no use of pepper spray or impact weapons, no hand or leg strikes were used and the carotid restraint hold was never attempted.”

The man was taken to the hospital where he later died, Brooks shared then offered his “deepest sympathies to the man’s friends and  family.”

“Our officers are completely devastated by what happened last night,” he said and then explained they’ve been offered counselors and “placed on paid administrative leave…which is customary in these types of situations.”

“To ensure transparency, impartiality and public confidence in the investigatory process, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office is leading this investigation and they will have the full cooperation of my staff,” Brooks stated. “In the event the District Attorney’s investigation determines that our officers acted unlawfully, I want the public to know that I would request and expect the involved officers to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Brooks stated. “Additionally, and separately, there will be an independent, third-party administrative investigation into this incident.

“Should there be any violation of Antioch Police Department policies I can assure the community I will hold these officers accountable for their actions,” he continued. “Regardless of the outcome, these investigations will be available for public review, once completed.”

“It is important that our community understand and have the opportunity to review the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident,” Brooks stated. “We are committed to being open and transparent in this process. Our department has always been and will always be focused on the safety and well-being of our community and I will do everything I can to continue earning your trust. Providing exceptional service to everyone is vitally important to me as well as my officers.”

“This is preliminary information and additional facts and circumstances may come to light as the investigation continues,” Brooks added. “If we have additional information at a later date, we will share that with the community.”

Asked if he supports body cameras, which is one of the reforms Thorpe is promoting and has the public support of at least three other council members, the chief responded “absolutely”.

 

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Thorpe press conf 022421 KPIX5


Chief Brooks at press conf 02-24-21


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