LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A grieving family is seeking answers following the in-custody death of a 26-year-old man and father to a 1-year-old boy.
Jorge Azucena died at a hospital on Sept. 7, after being placed in a holding cell. According to the LAPD, Azucena was arrested that evening following a high-speed chase.
While being driven to the Southwest Division, Azucena allegedly complained that he was having trouble breathing. His family alleges that police ignored those complaints and placed him in a holding cell. They claim that’s when he collapsed.
The LAPD would not comment about reports that one of the two officers in the patrol car allegedly told Acuzena, “if you can talk, you can breathe.”
Police also have not disclosed how long it took for officers to respond to the cell. Acuzena was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Meanwhile, his family tells CBS2’s Dave Lopez that they had no idea that Acuzena had been arrested.
“They said that they didn’t have anyone in the holding tank that night and that they also didn’t have any John Does,” one relative told Lopez.
Three days after his arrest, his family reportedly went back to the Southwest Division and that’s when they say they were informed of his death.
The Los Angeles Times reports that LAPD Chief Charlie Beck recorded a video message to officers following the incident, which stated, “I don’t expect you to be medical experts, but I do expect you to use good judgment.”
Beck has ordered an internal investigation into Azucena’s death. Also, two patrol officers and three supervisors have since been relieved of duty.