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Family Files Claim Over the Death of 19-Year-Old

October 23, 1998|STEVE BALL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The family of a 19-year-old Westminster man who died a week after being arrested on suspicion of drug possession is filing a $10-million wrongful-death claim against Orange County and the city of Westminster, the family's lawyer said.

Attorney Van Thai Tran said he filed the Westminster claim Thursday and will file another against the county today alleging that Tuan Tang was denied medical attention and that his civil rights were violated.

The lawyer gave this account of the young man's death: On Oct. 10, family members called 911 because they feared that Tang may have taken a drug overdose. Orange County paramedics arrived at their home about the same time as four Westminster police officers, he said.

Tang was examined by the police officers and the paramedics at the scene, then transported to the police station. An hour or two later, police called Tang's parents to say that their son had stopped breathing and was being taken to Huntington Beach Hospital.

Tran said the parents arrived at the hospital to find their son unconscious and breathing with the aid of a ventilator. The young man died in the hospital Oct. 17.

Westminster Police Lt. Bill Lewis confirmed that Tang's family had called paramedics to report "bizarre behavior" by the young man. Orange County Fire Authority personnel requested that Westminster police meet them at the scene, Lewis said.

Tang was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance, Lewis said. He was moved from the police station to the hospital when he began to "demonstrate difficulty breathing," Lewis said.

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