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$2,925,000 Federal Jury Award for California Man's Police Restraint Death

On July 1, 2015, a California federal jury awarded survivors of a man who was killed by police due to restraint asphyxia $2,925,000.

Robert Ramirez, 26, told a female friend he had swallowed an "eight ball," about 3.5 grams of methamphetamine, while driving to her home in Oxnard, California, when he became paranoid that he would be stopped by police and the drugs found on him. He began behaving strangely, so she called 911 and asked for an ambulance. At least seven police officers responded and surrounded Ramirez with one pointing a Taser at him at all times during the incident.

Ramirez attempted to rise from his seated position and was immediately and forcibly taken down to the concrete by officers. Soon it was discovered that he was dead. The cause of death was ruled homicide by restraint asphyxia.

With the assistance of Woodland Hills attorneys Dale K. Galipo and Eric Valenzuela, Ramirez's family sued the police officers, police department and City of Oxnard, in federal court, alleging deprivation of Ramirez's and their civil rights, battery, negligence and wrongful death. At trial, audio recordings established that officers continued applying pressure to Ramirez's head, neck, back, buttocks and legs even after he was restrained with handcuffs and leg restraints and after he went silent after begging for his life, saying he could riot breathe. They also proved that officers verbally noted he was having trouble breathing, yet applied pressure for four minutes.

Defendants claimed Ramirez failed to comply with police instructions to roll over onto his back so he could be handcuffed for the EMTs' safety.

The jury found that officers used unreasonable and excessive force, none were deliberately indifferent to Ramirez's serious medical needs, but all seven were negligent and deliberately indifferent to the parent's right to a familial relationship with Ramirez. They awarded the family $2,295,000 in damages--$1,600,000 to his minor son who was born after he died, $625,000 to each parent and $75,000 to his estate. See: Ramirez v. Oxnard Police Department, U.S.D.C.-C.D. Cal., Case No. 2:13-cv-01615-MWF-AN. Source:

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