Indio man died while in police custody, investigation ongoing

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Ambulance - File Photo BSP.
INDIO, CA – On Friday, January 22, 2021 at 4:32 pm, several patrons in the parking lot of the Cardenas Market, located at 82266 Highway 111, called the Indio Police Department’s dispatch center to report an adult male subject, that appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The man was reportedly exhibiting bizarre behavior and throwing things in more than one of the area businesses.

Officers arrived on scene and encountered the man in the parking lot of Cardenas. He was visibly agitated and upset. The officers attempted to calm the man down and de-escalate the incident, but the man remained combative. During the encounter, officers attempted to physically restrain the man and he began spitting on officers. Due to health and safety concerns, a mesh spit mask was placed on the subject. The spit mask prevents subjects from expelling bodily fluids and does not restrict breathing.
During the incident, officers noticed the subject was experiencing a medical emergency and immediately began administering CPR, while summoning CAL Fire paramedics. Despite life-saving efforts by officers and paramedics, the 41-year-old man could not be revived.
When a person dies while in police custody, the investigation is handled in the same manner that an officer-involved shooting would be. Per the established protocol in Riverside County, the agency employing the officer(s) involved in the incident will not be the lead agency investigating the incident. This protocol is intended to enhance the public’s confidence in the investigation by avoiding a perceived conflict of interest. Accordingly, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Force Investigations Detail is handling the investigation in conjunction with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. The Indio Police Department Professional Standards Unit is conducting a parallel administrative investigation to determine if officers acted within department policy. The identification of the decedent is being withheld, pending the notification of next of kin. Inquiries can be made with the Riverside County Coroner’s Office.

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We are aware this incident may have been recorded on cell phone video. We are asking anyone who has video or has other information regarding this incident to contact Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Nelson Gomez @ (951) 955-2777. You may also contact Indio Police Department Major Crimes Unit Detective Jesse Marin @ (760) 559-2408.

On behalf of the Indio Police Department, I wish to express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the decedent. I ask our community to be patient with us and our partner agencies. These are complex and highly technical investigations that take a considerable amount of time to get a definitive answer as to what occurred.