Agencies: Gilroy Police Department - California
Last updated: 3 days ago
42-year-old Steven Juarez died Feb. 25 after a struggle with Gilroy police .
A Gilroy Police Department spokesman said Tuesday, Feb. 27, that officers acted “appropriately and lawfully” in their attempt to arrest Juarez. A family member said she thinks the police used excessive force, leading to Juarez’ death.
Juarez’ cousin, Rebeca Armendariz, said she has spoken to witnesses of the Feb. 25 incident who she said told her “they saw multiple police beating on him, and he was screaming for them to stop.” Armendariz said the GIlroy police account of the incident doesn’t match up with Juarez’ non-threatening demeanor, his physically small stature and his friendliness with residents of the neighborhood where police subdued him.
Escalation of force
Gilroy Police officers attempted to arrest Juarez after a resident of the 7400 block of Chestnut Street called to report a suspicious person in her backyard, four blocks east of Monterey Street, just before 10pm Feb. 25. When police arrived to the residence, the suspect “made eye contact” with an officer and immediately fled on foot, according to Deras.
The officers verbally told Juarez to surrender, but he continued to run away, reads a Feb. 26 press release from Gilroy police. The suspect made his way onto the roof of at least two nearby residences.
The press release from Gilroy police noted that before making any physical contact with Juarez (not identified by name in the release), officers said it appeared he was bleeding from his face. Deras added that this wound appeared to be near the suspect’s forehead.
A nearby witness told officers of hearing a noise that sounded like someone or something fell from a roof, Deras said.
The officers caught up to Juarez on the ground in front of another residence nearby and approached him in an effort to arrest him, according to police and other sources. Juarez “acted violently and resisted their efforts and made threatening statements,” police said.
Seven Gilroy Police officers were in the neighborhood responding to the call by the time police made contact with Juarez, Deras said. He said a single officer used both the Taser and carotid restraint on Juarez.
At one point during the struggle—after the carotid-restraint hold was applied—the officers noticed the man was in medical distress, the Feb. 26 press release states. The officers initiated first aid, which Gilroy Fire Department personnel took over when they arrived at the scene.
Authorities transported Juarez to a nearby hospital with a trauma center, where he was pronounced dead, according to police.
“It’s a method we can use to render somebody unconscious, so we can get them into custody,” Deras said. “Typically they (wake up) within 15 to 30 seconds.”
In this incident, the suspect did not regain consciousness after the officers’ use of force, police said.
Deras added he is aware there might be private security camera footage from residences in the neighborhood that depicts at least portions of the foot pursuit and subsequent use of force on Juarez. Investigators are in the process of attempting to acquire that footage.
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