LAPD Officers Won't Be Charged For Death Of Man After Violent Arrest
Prosecutors announced Thursday that they will not be charging a pair of Los Angeles Police Department officers for the violent arrest of a South L.A. man who died the next day in police custody.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office believes the two sergeants "used only the force necessary with the narrow purpose" of arresting Omar Abrego, per the L.A. Times.
LAPD arrested Abrego on August 2, 2014 after they were notified about a man sitting inside a suspicious white-van without license plates. LAPD responded and found a van fitting the description driving erratically. They watched it run a stop sign and almost hit a pedestrian.
Police followed the van until it stopped in front of Abrego's home. Abrego exited the vehicle through its back doors, and tried to flee when police asked him to get down onto the ground. Abrego managed to make about a dozen or so feet before one of the sergeants tackled him. Abrego fought back.
The story goes that LAPD sergeants struggled to control Abrego. While some witnesses say they watched the sergeants beat Abrego with batons for 10 minutes, others say Abrego was uncontrollable.
"They just could not seem to get this man under control. He was just not going to stop," a witness said, according to the L.A. Times. "It was just sad to see a man so dysfunctional and for it to take all those cops to tame him."
A video showing the end of the arrest (below) shows Abrego lying in a pool of blood with the officers on top of him. It was also later determined that Abrego had ingested a significant amount of cocaine before the arrest.
Abrego died the next day, after being admitted to the hospital for kidney failure and a breakdown of muscle tissue. He was also treated for also treated for cuts, bruises, a severe concussion, and cocaine toxicity. The L.A. County Coroner's office listed his official cause of death as a result of cocaine use, but also cited "physical and emotional duress" as a contributing factor.
In the eyes of the attorney Steve Lerman, who is representing Abrego's wife and three children, the sergeants' "inability to control the situation," lead to Abrego's death.
"This was not justified by the facts or the law," Lerman said. "The Abrego case remains a significant blemish on the LAPD."