Wednesday Dec 16 2009
Investigation continues into in-custody death
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein The Press Tribune
More details were emerging this week following the death of a 36-year-old Sacramento man inside the Roseville Police Department’s jail. It’s still unclear exactly why Paul Martin Martinez died after a struggle with officers Friday evening. On Sunday, several friends and family staged a protest outside the department, telling news stations Martinez was disabled and officers used excessive force. Roseville Police Lt. Mike Doane said two investigations are currently underway. An internal investigation will assess the officers’ conduct, and the District Attorney’s Office will oversee an inquiry into Martinez’s death. So far, police say the incident occurred as follows: • At 5:19 p.m., officers stopped Martinez at Cirby Way and Orlando Avenue for a traffic violation. He was arrested without incident for possession of methamphetamine, officials said. • About an hour later inside the jail intake area, officers discovered additional meth on his person and ordered him to stand for a more thorough search. “That’s the time he started to become belligerent with the officers’ command,” Doane said. Doane said Martinez, who was handcuffed during the entire incident, struggled not to be controlled or touched by officers. Five police officers were present in the booking area, and became involved in the struggle, Doane said. “He didn’t want to give up property and was holding onto his belt,” Doane said. • After several minutes, an officer deployed his Taser weapon, which struck Martinez in the buttocks, police said. Martinez continued to struggle for a couple of minutes, then stopped breathing. • Officers administered CPR, and requested emergency aid from the Roseville Fire Department at 6:35 p.m. Martinez was taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Doane confirmed that Martinez told the arresting officer he suffered from an arm injury, but the 250-pound man’s arm was not paralyzed. All six employees were on paid leave this week, a standard procedure for officer-involved fatalities. Doane said Monday it’s not appropriate to link the death to the use of a Taser device on the man. “We have no indication at all what cause of death was at this time,” Lt. Mike Doane said. Roseville officers have had the Taser, which is designed to give a 50,000-vote electric shock incapacitating a person, saving both injury to police and suspects. Still, Tasers have proven controversial as their adoption has increased. A study earlier this year by UC San Francisco researchers found deaths increase in the first year a department begins using Tasers. Roseville has had Tasers in place since 1999, but gave all officers the option of carrying them in 2006. Martinez had not been arrested before in Roseville, but court records show an extensive criminal record in Sacramento County. Files show a dozen charges from 1993 through 2007, including grand theft auto, robbery, drug possession and obstructing a peace officer.