YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Region

Man's Death Not Linked to Trauma

The victim died while scuffling with Ontario police. He allegedly had overdosed on drugs.

May 30, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

The San Bernardino County coroner's office on Thursday announced that physical trauma did not cause the death of Jesse Martinez, a 29-year-old Ontario man who died while wrestling with police officers after he allegedly overdosed on methamphetamine.

Martinez was pronounced dead Wednesday morning at Chino Valley Medical Center after being handcuffed and becoming combative with four Ontario police officers. The officers tried to control him by holding his arms and legs. Martinez stopped breathing during the scuffle, police said.

"No trauma contributed to [Martinez's] death. The doctors are looking at the possibility that his internal organs malfunctioned," Supervising Deputy Coroner Randy Emon reported after Thursday's autopsy.

Emon said a toxicology report on Martinez will require six to 16 weeks.

Before the coroner's announcement, an Ontario police spokesman said there was no indication that any of the arresting officers played a role in Martinez's death as they restrained him.

"There was no unusual force by our officers and no weapons utilized. They were just trying to keep the guy from hurting himself as he was flailing around by keeping his legs and upper body restrained," said Ontario Police Cpl. David McBride.

"There was nothing close to [abuse], not at all. This is being investigated as an accidental death due to possession of a controlled substance, and that's based on what the victim himself said when he called 911," McBride added.

Following policies, McBride said an Ontario police internal-affairs team would investigate the case.

The four officers remain on active duty, McBride said.

Los Angeles Times Articles