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Supervisors to Vote on Paying Family of Man Who Died After Struggle at O.C. Jail

June 04, 2002|STUART PFEIFER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Orange County supervisors are to vote today on whether to pay a six-figure settlement to relatives of a man who the family says suffered fatal head injuries at the hands of sheriff's deputies.

Gilbert Garcia died June 1, 1998, two days after he was taken out of Orange County Jail on a stretcher after a struggle with deputies. Part of the confrontation was captured on videotape.

A Sheriff's Department official confirmed Monday that a settlement had been offered but declined to give details.

A source described the county's offer as a "substantial six-figure settlement."

Garden Grove police brought Garcia, 32, to the county jail after arresting him on an outstanding drunken-driving warrant.

A jail surveillance video shows Garcia interacting with jail staff with no sign of an injury, shortly before he struggled on the floor with four deputies, said R. Samuel Paz, the family's attorney.

Garcia, who sustained a fractured skull and brain injury, died at a hospital two days later.

Orange County prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges, citing evidence that Garcia could have been injured before he was brought to the jail.

The FBI opened an investigation of Garcia's death last year. Federal officials have not yet decided whether to pursue criminal charges against the deputies involved, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

Paz said he has spoken to the FBI and has offered to turn over his case file to assist the investigation.

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