ANAHEIM (CBSLA.com) — Anaheim police Monday released security video of a confrontation between two officers and a homeless man, who died nine days after the incident.
About 9:15 a.m. July 2, a woman called 911 and reported that a suspicious man followed her home in the 2600 block of Broadway.
The caller said: “There’s a man loitering around my home, and he followed my mom home. And I just want, can you guys send someone out here to check it out?”
When officers arrived, Vincent Valenzuela ran into a coin laundry. According to Anaheim police Chief Raul Quezada, the officers saw Valenzuela trying to get rid of a narcotics pipe. He said that was when the confrontation began.
As the officers tried to arrest Valenzuela, they repeatedly told him to stop resisting, but he refused and ran out of the laundry. Eventually, an officer hit him in the back with a stun gun, Quezada said.
“I don’t think he was resisting. I think he was scared for his life. My son was not violent. He was a sweet, lovable person,” Valenzuela’s father said.
Police said he kicked the officers, and a preliminary toxicology report showed he was high on drugs.
Once in custody, the officers noticed the 32-year-man was in medical distress and called paramedics. He died Sunday.
Family attorney Garo Mardirossian claimed police hit Valenzuela in the chest with a Taser gun, causing a heart attack that killed him. “Vincent’s heart stopped pumping. And by stopping the blood flow, it caused the brain to be starved of oxygen,” the lawyer said. “Detain the person, but don’t use force.”
Both officers were wearing body cameras, and footage have been turned over to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for an investigation.
Both officers are back to work.
The Anaheim Police Department units are conducting concurrent investigations to determine whether the officers acted within department policy, Quezada said.
“It’s hard to tell your children that their father will no longer be a part of their lives.” said the father-of-two’s grieving ex-wife, Patricia Gonzalez.
“While any loss of life is a tragedy, the death of Mr. Valenzuela while in our custody is particularly impactful, and I express my sincere condolences to his family,” the police chief said.
According to court records and his family, Valenzuela had a history of drug problems, had been in and out of jail for minor offenses and was living on the streets.
An autopsy is scheduled for this week.