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California Jail Restraint and Tasering Death Settles for $3 Million

California Jail Restraint and Tasering Death Settles for $3 Million

The surviving family of a deceased detainee at the Santa Cruz, California jail settled their wrongful death suit against Santa Cruz County and its sheriff’s personnel for $3 million in April 2008. The prisoner died in September 2005 of asphyxia, heart stoppage and brain death after being Tasered and then fatally restrained by deputies who had handcuffed him face down and sat on him until he stopped breathing.

David Cross, 44, had been arrested and booked into the jail. One day later, suffering from anxiety, he was placed in a restraint chair in a medical observation cell, where he lay down and banged his head on the cell door. After being medicated with Lorazepam, he was handcuffed and shackled while lying on his stomach, with two deputies sitting on his upper back. They also put a spit mask over his face and “drive-Tased” him twice. Several times he cried out, “I can’t breathe,” “I’m going to die,” and “Please get off me.” After 3½ minutes, he stopped moving. Limp, and having emptied his bladder, he was put back into the restraint chair. None of the attending medical staff did anything for Cross until a nurse checked for his pulse 16 minutes later, but found none. A day after paramedics took him to the hospital, he was pronounced dead.

Cross’s parents, brother and daughter sued in U.S. District Court charging wrongful death and violation of Cross’s federal civil rights as well as those under California Government Code § 845.6. They alleged excessive use of force, lack of proper staff training and deliberate indifference to Cross’s constitutional rights. Defendants claimed that their force was not excessive. However, they subsequently settled the suit for $3 million. The plaintiffs were represented by Walnut Creek, California attorney Andrew C. Schwartz. See: Cross v. Santa Cruz County, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Cal.) Case No. C06-04891 RS.

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Related legal case

Cross v. Santa Cruz County