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Thursday, February 12, 2009

California man dies in police custody after being Tasered

Richard Lua, 28, San Jose, California

February 12, 2009
Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle

A man in his 20s died after a struggle with San Jose police during which he was jolted with a Taser in the backyard of a home, police said today.

The man, whose name was not immediately released, died at the scene of the confrontation on the 2200 block of Amador Drive in east San Jose, said Officer Enrique Garcia, a department spokesman.

The incident began at 10:24 p.m. Wednesday when two officers on patrol in the area of Story Road and Adrian Way were directed to nearby Amador Drive, Garcia said. It was not immediately known who sent the officers there, police said.

They encountered the man and were trying to take him into custody in the backyard of a home for an unspecified violation when he began resisting arrest, Garcia said.

"A violent struggle ensued," and during the confrontation the man was shot with a Taser in an attempt to gain his compliance, Garcia said.

The man began showing signs of medical distress. An officer began giving the man CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. It was not known if the man lived in the area or he whether he was linked to the home where he died.

One officer suffered facial cuts while the other received a leg injury. They were treated for the injuries and were being interviewed. Their names were not released.

The incident is under investigation by San Jose police homicide and internal-affairs investigations as well as the Santa Clara County district attorney's office, which is standard procedure for in-custody deaths.

The cause of the man's death will be determined by the Santa Clara medical examiner.

The death is the sixth to result after the use of Tasers by San Jose police since 2004, when all officers in the city were given the stun guns for use on patrol, according to police watchdog groups. Lawsuits are pending in at least two of those cases.

In December, the San Jose City Council agreed to pay $70,000 to the family of Jose Angel Rios, a 38-year-old Fresno man whose death in a 2005 confrontation with police was partly attributed to officers' use of pepper spray and stun guns.

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