The man who died Sunday after struggling with two Fountain Valley police officers was identified as Mario Ciarmoli, 36, of north San Diego County, authorities said Monday.
The results of a preliminary autopsy Monday were being withheld pending an investigation into the death by the Orange County district attorney's office, a coroner's spokesman said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan F. Brown, who was overseeing the investigation, said he would withhold information on the cause of death and the names of the police officers until the investigation is completed and a report is returned to the Fountain Valley Police Department.
Fountain Valley Police Lt. Mike Hanrahan said Monday that one officer was a six-year veteran and that the second had been with the department for two years. Both officers are on administrative leave and will receive counseling, which is standard department procedure in deaths involving officers, as is the request for the district attorney's office to investigate..
Police were called to Millie's Restaurant in the 8900 block of Warner Avenue shortly after 2:30 p.m. Sunday by a restaurant employee who reported that Ciarmoli was "acting erratically," Sgt. Larry Griswold said.
Cheryl Lind, assistant manager of the restaurant, said Ciarmoli was picking up customer water glasses and switching them with his own, saying, "This is mine." It was when he approached a waitress with a milk creamer in his hand that Lind called police.
"He just scared me too much," Lind said.
When police arrived, they asked to examine a purple canvas bag that Ciarmoli was carrying, and he refused their request, Lind said. An officer then told Ciarmoli that they should go outside and talk. As they passed through the door, Ciarmoli shoved an officer, and a struggle began, Lind said.
"He was the one giving them all kinds of trouble," Lind said of Ciarmoli. "He was struggling like I couldn't believe, just thrashing all over the place."
Bound and Handcuffed Him
Lind said the officers pinned Ciarmoli face-down on the ground and bound his ankles with duct tape and handcuffed him. "His face was all bloody, and they had a baton in the handcuffs," she said.
"It looked like maybe he was swallowing his tongue," she said. "Then he just lay there."
Police said Ciarmoli collapsed and was taken to Huntington Humana Hospital in Huntington Beach, where he was pronounced dead at 3:36 p.m. Sunday.
The general manager of a restaurant across the street from Millie's said that she asked Ciarmoli three times earlier that day to leave the premises but that he had quieted down and had not harassed any customers.
Ciarmoli, from the Escondido area, was described by witnesses as wearing unkempt, baggy clothes and a tie. Police had no details on the man's background. Ciarmoli's brother, reached Monday, declined to comment.