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California Briefing / San Diego

Officer cleared in beanbag death

March 07, 2009|Tony Perry

The San Diego district attorney Friday cleared a San Diego police officer of any criminal liability in the September 2008 death of an 87-year-old man who died after being struck by "non-lethal force" beanbags.

Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis said the officer was justified in firing the beanbags to defend himself and other officers as Guadalupe Zavala advanced on them threateningly with a shard of glass. Zavala was also struck by a Taser fired by another officer.

The officers had gone to Zavala's home after his caretaker called 911 to say he threatened her because she would not let him smoke a cigarette. Officers were unable to get him to drop the glass, Dumanis said.

He died 30 days after being subdued and arrested. An autopsy found that he had advanced kidney disease, heart disease, a malignant tumor and dementia and listed the cause of death as complications from blunt-force trauma to his chest from the beanbags.

-- Tony Perry

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