FULLERTON (CBSLA) — An Orange County District Attorney’s Office investigation continues Tuesday after a 22-year-old man died in police custody after rampaging into a neighbor’s house and attacking officers responding to 911 calls for help.
When Fullerton police were called to the 200 block of South Kellogg Drive at 5:22 p.m. Monday, it was the second time they’d been called to the neighborhood on the reports of a man acting erratically, according to Fullerton police spokesman Lt. Jon Radus.
The man’s own father called 911 to tell police his son was being disruptive, but when officers arrived, the family said they could control him and they did not want him to go to jail.
Police were called again to the address just an hour and a half later, after the man went to a neighbor’s home and broke in. Home security video shows him grunting as he kicks and punches the door in, while a woman is heard screaming inside. Police say the two did not know each other.
“I don’t think she’s okay, not through what she went through, all that yelling and hitting, and her kids were there with her?” neighbor Leticia Rulas said. “That’s very traumatizing. No, I don’t think she’s okay.”
The woman was not hurt, and the man took off again. When officers arrived, they struggled to subdue him, first using non-lethal rounds like sponge gun rounds and Tasers. Officers were able to get him into handcuffs, but he continued to be violent and uncooperative, Radus said.
Three officers were injured during the struggle.
Paramedics called to the scene were given permission to use sedatives to calm the man, who was taken to a hospital as standard protocol when a Taser is used, Radus said. The man was pronounced dead at the hospital.
He was later identified by sheriff’s officials as Daniel Espinoza, 23, of Fullerton. He was reportedly well known in the neighborhood and struggled with drug use, mental illness and erratic behavior.
One neighbor said she pleaded with the man’s family to get him help.
“‘Please. Take him to the hospital — or jail. But take him,'” she says she told the family. “But they don’t wanna.”
He was arrested earlier this month for fighting with firefighters and possession of methamphetamines and put on a mental health evaluation hold.
An investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has been launched into the in-custody death.