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$2.1M Excessive Use of Force Settlement Reached in 2008 Orange County, California Wrongful Death of Inmate Detained by Cops in 2008

December 31, 1969

The family of Jason Jesus Gomez has agreed to a $2.1 million excessive use of force settlement over his Santa Ana, California wrongful death. The 35-year-old inmate died a few days after he was involved in a dispute with deputies.

Gomez was at the Orange County jail on a 90-day misdemeanor probation violation when he fractured a nurse's arm on March 25, 2008. At the time, Gomez had been off the medication he was supposed to take for a psychiatric condition for five days. When deputies stepped in to detain him following the incident, he resisted their efforts. Eventually, they were able to restrain him, but not before using a Taser. Gomez was handcuffed, placed in leg irons and a wheelchair, and fitted with a pit mask. It was then that he stopped breathing.

Efforts to revive Gomez proved futile, he was taken off life support on April 1, 2008.

Autopsy results show that Gomez died from "hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy," which indicates that his brain was deprived of oxygen. In their federal lawsuit alleging Orange County, California excessive use of force, Gomez's family claims that the deputies placed the inmate in a physical position that prevented him from breathing properly.

Following Gomez's death, a new department policy was implemented barring deputies from Tasering inmates who had already been subdued by other methods. Reforms were also made to hold deputies that use force accountable.

If you or someone you love was hurt because you believe that law enforcement officers used too much force or abused their authority, you may have grounds for an Orange County, California personal injury case. Many people don't realize that their rights have been violated and often don't speak out to report what has happened.

Cops, deputies, state highway patrol officers, county police, and CHP are in the unique position where using force can sometimes be part of their job description. That said, they cannot misuse that power or someone may get hurt.

Just this week, Wanda Johnson, Oscar Grant III's mom agreed to a $1.3 million California wrongful death settlement. Grant, 22, died after he was shot by a BART police officer on a train station platform in Oakland on January 1, 2009. Officer Johannes Mehserle, 29, said he thought he was pulling out his Taser, not his pistol, when he aimed it at Grant, who was already lying face down on the ground following a fight in his rail car. . BART also settled with Grant's young daughter Tatiana for $1.5 million. Grant's dad and a number of his friends who were with him also filed lawsuits.

BART will pay $1.3 million to Oscar Grant III's mother, Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2011

Family gets $2.1 million in jail death, OC Register, July 1, 2011

Related Web Resources:

Orange County Sheriff's Department


Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy

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