Attorneys representing the family of a man who died after suffering a cardiac episode while in custody of Anaheim police in 2018 said Monday that the case is similar to George Floyd’s death, which sparked protests around the world as people demand change.
“The video out of Minnesota is exactly what happened to my client,” Eric Dubin told City News Service about the death of 35-year-old Christopher Eisinger in March 2018.
Dubin held a news conference in front of Anaheim City Hall, where family and friends held up posters with photos of Eisinger and the words “I can’t breathe,” which has become a rallying call against police brutality during demonstrations in the wake of Floyd’s death.
“They needed to breathe to live. And at the hands of police officers, that we all trust and rely on, they died,” Dubin said. “The parallels between Christopher Eisinger and George Floyd are both sickening and undeniable.”
Floyd was held down by aMinneapolis police officer while three other officers involved in the incident looked on. All four officers have since been fired and charged in connection with his death.
Anaheim police responded to a call about a man in a woman’s back yard on March 2, 2018 and found Eisinger. He ran away but tripped and fell as police tried to take him into custody.
Police said later that Eisinger kicked officers and tried to pull away while five officers tried to restrain him.
Eisinger then went into cardiac arrest after “suffering medical distress.” He was hospitalized, his brain swelled and he was put on a ventilator. He died days later.
An autopsy later found that Eisinger died from cardiac arrest due to coronary artery disease and the effects of methamphetamine.
Dubin said none of the officers tried to help Eisinger while he was in distress.
“The reckless indifference for life is stunning,” he said.
Anaheim Police Chief Julian Harvey said during a news conference after Eisinger died that he was confident officers did not use excessive force during the confrontation.
Police acknowledged that Eisinger did not have a gun during the incident, but was armed with a pipe, something Dubin said was “100% false.”
A report from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office that looked over body cam footage determined that police did not kick, hit or use a Taser on Eisinger and no charges were filed against the officers involved.
On Monday, Mike Lyster, a spokesman for the city, reiterated the findings of an investigation following Eisinger’s death. “They handled a challenging situation professionally. That was a finding of an internal review and an independent review,” Lyster said of the officers.
Eisinger’s parents sued Anaheim for negligence and wrongful death.
Dubin and his co-counsel Annee Della Donna were set to go to trial in the suit in April, but it was postponed until October because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, attorneys for the city are seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed, Dubin said.
“I am really outraged because two years ago we told you we had a George Floyd in your neighborhood, in Anaheim, and no one listened,” said Donna, while standing next to Eisinger’s mother.
She encouraged people to find body cam footage of the arrest online and call the DA’s office to demand the case be reopened and charges be filed.
Eisinger’s mother, Katrina Eisinger, said she remains heartbroken over her son’s death. She added that he left behind a daughter and fiancé and that he was getting his life back on track.
Dubin and Donna said they hope Floyd’s case causes district attorneys and other investigative bodies across the country to look deeper into similar cases and reconsider charges. He also demanded justice for Katrina Eisinger.
“Late justice is still justice,” Dubin said.