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Posted: Aug 20, 2013 12:07 AM EDT
By Lindsey Reiser
A family is looking for answers after their adult son died following a run-in with police. The video is hard to watch. It shows the man on the roof of his apartment complex, and after he jumps down, he is swarmed by police, repeatedly Tazed and dragged down some stairs.
Michael Angel Ruiz’s family tells us while he had a history with drugs, and even a run-in with the law, he was trying to lead an honest life.
It is unknown why Ruiz was on the roof of his apartment complex late last month, but he ended up in critical condition at the hospital and ultimately died.
On July 28 at an apartment complex near 23rd Avenue and Indian School, several Phoenix police officers were trying to get 44-year-old Ruiz to come down from the roof.
When he did, he was placed in a chokehold, Tazed several times and told to stop resisting. According to witness video, Ruiz was in that position for at least three minutes. Finally his hands and feet were handcuffed, and he was dragged down the stairs with his head unsupported.
“We were both sort of in shock so we went down there the next morning, and he was on life support,” said Ruiz’s father, Richard Erickson, a retired LAPD detective. He said doctors at St. Joseph’s Hospital told him his son was brain-dead.
He saw an EMS report, stating his son had been tased five times and had to be resuscitated at the scene. He took his son off life support on Aug. 2.
“I miss him a lot. He was a good man,” Erickson said.
“It could’ve turned [out] differently, but a bad day, a sad day for us all,” said Gary Carthen, who lives at the complex and said he saw the whole thing. He said after the ordeal, police confiscated their cell phones, and returned them later that day.
“I think the video speaks for itself,” said attorney Jocquese Blackwell, who is working with the family to get to the bottom of what happened. “They believe the officers involved in this particular case went too far. They went outside their authority.”
The family is not seeking legal action yet.
CBS 5 requested an interview with the Phoenix Police Department as well as an opportunity to show them the video.
They sent a statement saying:
We will have to decline your request for an interview at this time. There is currently an ongoing administrative investigation into this matter. As you know, state law precludes us from commenting on administrative investigations. We will wait until the entire investigative process has been completed.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
Autopsy released for man who died after police altercation
Updated: Jan 23, 2014 10:49 PM EST
By Lindsey Reiser
Posted by Breann Bierman
BULLHEAD CITY, AZ (CBS5) –
“The decedent’s anoxic brain injury, while being the final cause of death, resulted from an episode of resuscitated cardiac arrest that can, itself, be the result of many factors. Methamphetamine use can produce cardiac arrhythmias and subsequent anoxic brain injury without other intervening factors; therefore, its role in the decedent’s death cannot be excluded. Conversely, the roles of various actions and injuries, which occurred during the altercation with police (including, but not limited to, attempted carotid hold placement and conducted electrical weapon deployment) can potentially contribute to anoxic brain injury or exacerbate underlying conditions that could result in anoxic brain injury, so they cannot be excluded in being contributory to the decedent’s death. As none of these factors can be included or excluded with certainty as contributing to the decedent’s death, the manner of death is categorized as ‘undetermined’.”
The attorney for Ruiz’s family said he didn’t have to die that day.
“Officers aren’t being trained on how to address these situations properly,” said attorney Jocquese Blackwell. “If they were, Michael would still be alive.”
The family has sent the city a notice of claim.