Police actions are justified in case of Anaheim man dying from asphyxia after struggle – Orange County Register

Anaheim police were justified in the use of a stun gun and a restraint hold to subdue a man who later died from complications of asphyxia, a report released Wednesday by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office says.

Anaheim police officers Woojin Jun and Daniel Wolfe, on July 2, 2016, responded to a report of a suspicious man who had followed a woman to her home.

The officers attempted to detain the man, identified as 32-year-old Fermin Vincent Valenzuela of Anaheim, in a nearby laundry mat, but Valenzuela, under the influence of methamphetamine, struggled and ran, the report says.

“Both officers Jun and Wolfe expressed the opinion that Valenzuela’s behavior and unusual strength indicated that he was under the influence of a narcotic,” the report says.

The officers followed Valenzuela and again tried to detain him, but Valenzuela, who outweighed each officer by about 60 pounds, violently struggled, the report says.

During the incident, the officers tried to Tase the suspect multiple times.

Sgt. Daniel Gonzalez arrived and found Wolfe using the carotid-artery technique – in which an officer applies pressure on the sides of the neck, cutting off blood flow to the brain and causing a temporary loss of consciousness.

“Sgt. Gonzalez stated the application of that technique was appropriate and within department guidelines because of Valenzuela’s physical resistance, and because all other efforts had been used without success,” the report says. “Sgt. Gonzalez also coached Officer Wolfe to make sure he was applying the technique in the proper manner.”

Wolfe squeezed Valenzuela for about 15 to 20 seconds until he heard Valenzuela snore, the report says. Officers used two pairs of handcuffs to restrain him because of his size and then immediately worked to resuscitate him when they realized he was unresponsive.

Valenzuela suffered three heart attacks and was taken off of life support on July 10. An autopsy found the cause of death was complications of asphyxia while under the influence of methamphetamine.

The officers acted appropriately, the District Attorney’s Office says in the report.

“A jury analyzing these facts would correctly conclude that officers Jun and Wolfe did not commit a crime, but carried out their duties as peace officers in a reasonable and justifiable manner,” it says.

Valenzuela’s family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Anaheim.

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