Man Who Had Been In Coma Since Getting Tased By Police Dies
A 32-year-old father of two who had been in a coma for several days after a run-in with Anaheim police has died. Fermin Vincent Valenzuela, 32, of Anaheim, died at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday when he was taken off life support, according to the OC Register. He had been in a medically-induced coma since July 2. His ex-wife, Patricia Gonzalez, told the Register that Valenzuela had "no brain activity."
On Saturday, July 2 just after 9 a.m., Anaheim officers were responding to a report of a man who had allegedly followed a woman to her house in the 2600 bock of West Broadway Avenue. When they arrived, they found Valenzuela, who allegedly "engaged the officers in a physical confrontation," according to a release from the Anaheim Police Department. They responded by using a stun gun, which triggered a heart attack. The officers began life-saving measures and called paramedics. He was then rushed to the hospital and listed in critical condition.
At a press conference held on Sunday outside the hospital, Valenzuela's 9-year-old son, Vincent, cried and said he wanted to see his father, the OC Weekly reports. "I really want him to be with me and play basketball and soccer," he said.
The full circumstances of Valenzuela's arrest are somewhat murky. City News Service reports that the woman Valenzuela was allegedly following told relatives at home about him, and one of her family members called police. Anaheim Police Sgt. Daron Wyatt said that Valenzuela was walking back and forth in front of the woman's home for some time, but that the location of the actual arrest was unclear.
Gonzalez and Valenzuela's sister told the Weekly that they stopped by businesses in the area where Valenzuela was arrested and asked owners what happened. Valenzuela was spotted on surveillance footage walking into a laundromat at about 9:20 a.m. that morning, followed by officers. The two women were told that Valenzuela was later seen running out of the laundromat to a 7-Eleven across the street. It was outside of the 7-Eleven that the arrest apparently occurred.
Valenzuela once worked as a landscaper. Gonzalez said that Valenzuela, with whom she has two children, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the past and was inconsistent about taking his medication. She said he was a good father, but "just sort of drifts away when he's in a depression."
Valenzuela had a criminal record that consisted of several charges, many related to drugs or theft, dating back to 2009. His most recent charges came in March, when he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, driving under the influence of a drug and falsely representing himself to an officer, according to City News Service.
The incident is under investigation by the Anaheim Police Department's Major Incident Review Team and Office of Independent Review, and the officers' body cams, which were worn at the time of the incident, have been handed over to the Orange County D.A.'s office, according to City News Service.
The father of Kelly Thomas, Ron Thomas, told the OC Weekly that he sees similarities between the press releases regarding Valenzuela and the ones issued about his son. Kelly Thomas was a 37-year-old schizophrenic homeless man who was beaten into a coma following an encounter with Fullerton police officers in 2011. He died five days after his arrest.