A California family has been awarded $2.9 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Oxnard Police Department. The family alleged that excessive police force caused their son’s death, and the panel of jurors in the case agreed.
The 26-year-old California man died in police custody, not long after he consumed methamphetamine in 2012. Police claimed that the man died due to an overdose of the drug, but in the wrongful death lawsuit, the man’s relatives alleged otherwise. They said that the officers killed the man by way of “active prone restraint.”
Active prone restraint generally refers to strangling or asphyxia — usually unintentional — which can happen when an individual is forcefully restrained. Usually, the person’s body is strapped face-down either on an ambulance wheeled stretcher so the victim cannot move, or police press the victim’s body down on the ground in order to temporarily restrain him or her. What results is the victim’s inability to breathe and, ultimately, death by asphyxiation.
In the instant case, autopsy reports confirmed that the man died from active prone restraint caused by officers holding him down. Still, the panel of jurors that decided the matter took three days of deliberation before they found all seven of the officers referenced in the case to be liable for the man’s death. The chief of the Oxnard Police Department told news reporters that she was not expecting the verdict.
One can never be certain of the results of a personal injury trial proceeding. For this reason, plaintiffs often choose to settle a particular case rather than face the risk of losing the matter at trial. However, if the defendants are unwilling to offer a reasonable settlement considering the facts of a particular case, a final trial may be the only way to seek justice in the matter.