In a wrongful death claim filed by Juan and Bianca Briceno against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the parents claim deputies killed their adult son Eric in his Maywood bedroom on the night of March 16. An autopsy report, released to the family only last week, found that Eric Briceno died of cardiopulmonary arrest due to “neck compression and restraint with a Taser,” the Los Angeles Times reports. The autopsy also indicated that Briceno, who was reportedly asleep when deputies first entered the room, was also punched and pepper sprayed by the deputies.
“He didn’t die a natural death,” Briceno’s father told the Times. “He died because of police brutality.”
The 39-year-old Briceno struggled with schizophrenia and substance use. Earlier in the evening of March 16, his parents claim, he got into an altercation with his father and then left the family home while in the throes of a schizophrenic episode. His parents called 911 seeking assistance, and were told to call back when he returned, which they did. By the time deputies arrived, he was asleep in his own bedroom.
When responding to calls about individuals with mental health issues, a licensed mental health expert from the department’s Mental Evaluation Team is often dispatched with a deputy parter. These clinicians are trained specifically in evaluation of patients and also in de-escalating tense situations which may arise as a result of the individual’s unique needs. According to an attorney for the family, the LASD only sent deputies to the Briceno house without any mental health professionals.
Briceno’s mother says she informed the deputies that he was sleeping and that she would go wake him because deputies barging into the room might confuse and agitate him. They entered anyway. She says that they approached, kneeled on his back, and struck his body with batons. The parents allege one deputy sprayed pepper spray into the room and then began to tase their son.
Bianca Briceno told the Times that she plead with the the deputies to cease, and attempted to use her phone to make a video as her son yelled that he could not breathe, but that an officer took the phone from her and pushed her out of the room. After being subdued, Eric Briceno was taken to a hospital and his parents were taken by deputies to the East L.A. sheriff’s station for questioning. Briceno was declared dead just eight minutes after arriving at the hospital; his parents were informed of his death after deputies completed their questioning.
The LASD did not comment on the incident for the investigation by the Times. In the autopsy report, the coroner notes having been told by investigators that Briceno “attacked the deputies” and “resisted arrest.” According to the district attorney’s office, department investigators have yet to present any information to prosecutors, even though the event took place over six months ago.
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