A lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges police caused the wrongful death of a burglary suspect by improperly using a stun gun and excessive force after the man had surrendered.
Police officers Tased Daniel Rivera, 37, four times and kneeled on his back after he had surrendered and was on his stomach in a paved wash in the Arleta neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley last August, according to the federal suit filed on behalf of his mother and son.
Officers had been called to the scene by a report that a man was trying to enter homes and they spotted Rivera, who jumped a fence and went down into the wash, authorities said.
Video from a police body camera shows a half-dozen officers around Rivera in the wash. The video shows officers struggling to handcuff Rivera, who seems to be tensing his hands. Officers repeatedly warn him to stop resisting. After some minutes he is cuffed and his legs hobbled. Police then call for medical assistance.
About eight minutes after paramedics arrived, Rivera became unconscious, according to a Los Angeles County medical examiner’s report. He died at the scene.
The lawsuit alleges that Rivera had surrendered, posed no threat and had shown signs of struggling to breathe yet even after he lay motionless, officers didn’t perform first aid and delayed calling for medical help.
The lawsuit contends that officers caused Rivera’s death by “piling on” him as he lay face down, Tasing him four times, using their full body weight to restrain him and causing “positional asphyxiation.”
The LAPD says it can’t comment on pending litigation.
The coroner’s report found no evidence that he suffered asphyxiation but it concluded the death was homicide — meaning there was human involvement — and cited “law enforcement restraint maneuvers and methamphetamine use” as contributing factors.
The report also noted that Rivera had an enlarged heart but said that wasn’t related to the immediate cause of death.
The suit against the city, Police Chief Michel Moore and several officers alleges wrongful death, unreasonable search and seizure, use of excessive force, assault and civil rights violations.