Body camera video released in deadly law enforcement encounters

Officers cleared of wrongdoing in cases

By Allison Horn
CNN

SAN DIEGO (CNN) - The San Diego County District Attorney’s office released Friday body camera, surveillance and cell phone video connected with two officer-involved shootings and three in-custody death incidents, KGTV reported.

In each of the dramatic encounters, DA’s office investigators cleared the law enforcement parties of criminal wrongdoing.

One of the officer-involved shootings occurred at Del Taco at 7060 Broadway in Lemon Grove on Jan. 5. A witness said Adolfo Gonzalez pointed a gun at customers inside. When deputies arrived, they told Gonzalez to put his hands up but he immediately pulled a handgun from under the table and pointed it at deputies, the district attorney’s office said. All three deputies on the scene opened fire, killing Gonzalez.

Investigators later determined that Gonzalez suffered from mental illness and had recently purchased a handgun. The day of the shooting, Gonzalez told a family member he wanted to get in a shootout with police, according to investigators. Gonzalez had a blood alcohol level of .25 at the time of his death.

 

 

 

San Diego Police received calls in February about a partially nude man walking in traffic and falling down, possibly being struck by a vehicle. Officers arrived to find Lawayne Horne, 44, disoriented. A friend said Horne was under the influence of PCP. During their assessment, Horne fell on the pavement and struck his head, then began rolling around and screaming, investigators said.

Horne began biting the flesh from his hands and fingers, according to the report. Officers placed Horne in handcuffs which were replaced by soft restraints when paramedics arrived. Horne went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance and died at the hospital a week later. The Medical Examiner determined Horne died of meth and PCP intoxication with hypertensive cardiovascular disease as a contributing factor.

The struggle between a man who ran naked through Little Italy in Oct. 2018 and San Diego Police was also reviewed. Witnesses reported seeing 39-year-old Vito Vitale running naked in the street. Police said Vitale was sweating profusely, very animated, and disoriented. An officer handcuffed him, at which point Vitale began struggling and the two fell to the sidewalk. Witnesses attempted to hold Vitale’s legs in place as two additional officers arrived. Vitale “exhibited significant strength, pushing one officer up with his legs,” investigators said.

Vitale’s pulse weakened and his breathing became shallow as paramedics arrived. Vitale died later that night at UCSD Medical Center.

Toxicology tests showed Vitale had cocaine and cannabinoids in his blood. The Medical Examiner determined his causes of death were the effects of cocaine and physiologic stress of restraint was a contributing factor.

Also reviewed by district attorney’s office investigators was the shooting of a man who fired into the air during the Ice Cube concert at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Sept. 2, 2018.

Prosecutors said Daniel Elizarraras was upset he could not get tickets to the sold-out concert and fired two rounds into the air near a ticket booth. The deputy deployed his Taser on Elizarraras with little effect, investigators said. After Elizarraras refused to drop his gun, a deputy saw him lower his weapon, at which point the deputy shot Elizarraras in the torso and shoulder, the district attorney’s office said.

Elizarraras survived the shooting and later pleaded guilty, receiving a three-year prison term.

Investigators examined evidence in the case of Marco Napoles-Rosales, 29, after he trespassed on the property of a Fallbrook Circle K in August 2018.

A deputy who tried to remove Napoles-Rosales said he became combative, biting down on the deputy’s thumb and not letting go. A deputy used a Taser on Napoles-Rosales without effect. He was placed in a safety restraint known as a wrap. Paramedics arrived and said Napoles-Rosales was showing signs of excited delirium and extreme strength, investigators said.

Napoles-Rosales became unresponsive in the ambulance and died the next day at the hospital. An autopsy showed he died due to sudden cardiopulmonary arrest associated with meth intoxication and physical exertion during restraint.

 

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