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Monday, January 12, 2009

California man dies in police custody

January 12, 2009
Bakersfield Californian

A Bakersfield man who acted bizarre, paranoid and combative was finally subdued Sunday afternoon by officers in a struggle, but later stopped breathing and died at Mercy Hospital, officers reported.

Police are investigating the death and an internal affairs investigation is also being conducted. The man was identified as 31-year-old Rodolfo Lepe.

Police went to the 4000 block of Maize Court near Pacheco and Akers roads at 4 p.m. when a woman reported that her brother at a house next door was acting bizarre and paranoid, officers said.

As police arrive they saw Lepe run into his home. His sister gave police a key and officers found him in a bedroom closet where he refused to come out and he tried to keep the doors closed.

Officers opened the door, but the Lepe made incoherent statements and threatened to kill the officers. Police shot him twice with a Taser but it was ineffective because he pulled the darts out of his skin.

Police tried to physically take Lepe into custody, but he fought the officers, struck and bit one officer, and grabbed another officer's holstered firearm.

Officers struggled with him for several minutes before additional officers arrived and he was subdued. Officers then saw that he was not breathing and began providing medical aid including CPR and calling for an ambulance.

Lepe was taken by an ambulance to Mercy Hospital where he died.

Lepe was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs for sale and being in a place where drugs were used in 2002, but the charges were later dismissed, Kern County court records show.

The officer who was struck and bit sustained minor injuries. He was treated and released from a hospital.

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