Being a police officer has never been an easy job and it seems that to be getting even harder as time marches on. Technology is growing more quickly than ever and it isn’t just iPhones that are getting better every year. Drugs and firearms are becoming more available and efficacious than ever before.
All of this means that people, in general, are becoming more dangerous. So when a police officer is called to investigate a dangerous person acting erratically, they have to make some hard decisions about how they are going to proceed; even if those decisions end up becoming fatal errors in judgment…
Fullerton police had been called to the suburban setting by the father of 22-year-old Daniel Espinosa. It was 4 p.m. on a Monday afternoon, not exactly prime time for crime or anything. Then again, one never knows what will happen on any given day, especially when a combative, unbalanced man is involved.
Espinosa’s father told police dispatchers that their officers should be wary when they arrive, as his son was being disruptive beyond reason. He worried the man would try and fight police when they arrived. Thankfully, he didn’t, and officers were able to subdue him for a time. Unfortunately, the calm was not to last.
He Can Stay…
The officers brought Espinosa back to his parent’s home and asked if they wanted to have them bring him in. Instead, the parents said he could stay and that they were certain that they could control him now that he was calm. They were wrong. A half hour later, Fullerton police received another call. This time from a neighbor.
The police were told that a man was walking about the neighborhood on the 200 block of S. Kellog Avenue, acting erratically and screaming at other pedestrians. The caller told the police that the man “didn’t look all there” and they knew had a feeling that Espinosa’s parents had lost track of him. They had indeed…
The Angry Young Man
Neighborhood woman Josefina Beltran was one of the first people to spot Espinosa as he angrily made his way through the area. She told police she had seen him screaming things with his hands balled up into a fist before he walked down the block and away from her. She didn’t hear him again after that, which was a worrying sign indeed.
The arriving officers instantly recognized Espinosa not just from the earlier incident, but from one a few days earlier that involved the 22-year-old allegedly jumping in front a Fullerton Fire Department engine. After almost getting hit, he then attempted to fight the firefighters who tried to intervene. That wasn’t the worst of it, either…
At the time, the police had arrived at the Fire Department’s request for help. After a brief struggle to detain Espinosa, they searched him and discovered that he also had meth in his possession. The man was arrested and detained so that they could evaluate his mental health. He was released back to his parents soon after.
As soon as the already erratic Espinosa saw the police walking towards him, he charged at them. The officers fired their weapons, which contained 40-millimeter “sponge gun” rounds. Though they struck him in the torso, the less lethal rounds had no effect on Espinosa. Heedless, he continued to rush them…
Espinosa kept coming so the officers had no choice. All three of them deployed their tasers, which struck him in three separate places. Unbelievably, the tasers didn’t slow him down either. Both of their nonlethal weapons had no effect on him and Espinosa continued to charge them. A moment later and the physical altercation began in earnest.
The fight was brief and the three officers proved to be more than a match for the unwell aggressor. They got him into handcuffs and paramedics arrived to transport him to the hospital. This was standard procedure after taser deployment, the man had just been shocked quite a bit, after all. As expected, Espinosa tried to fight the paramedics too…
Fought Them All
In a matter of weeks, David Espinosa had fought firefighters, police officers, and paramedics; all of whom had been trying to help him at the time. Eventually, though, the paramedics came out on top. In order to keep him calm, they sedated him, having received permission to do so from the hospital.
The three officers who had been engaged in the scuffle with Espinosa sustained a number of injuries during the scuffle. One officer had been hurt in the face, another in the neck, and the third sustained injuries to his abdomen. They too were taken to the hospital to receive treatment. Espinosa, on the other hand, never made it…
Far Too Calm
The sedative paramedics administered to Espinosa certainly calmed him down, perhaps a little too much. According to the police report, he stopped breathing at some point on the way to the medical center and was pronounced dead in the emergency room. Almost immediately, the police began investigating what had happened.
The investigation uncovered a number of details pertaining to Espinosa’s erratic behavior prior to his arrest. Investigators determined that he had broken into a neighbor’s home, not 20 minutes before the officers had arrived. There was even surveillance video of the man violently punching a door. Behind the door, a woman was screaming…
Looking for Trouble
The woman fled the residence and it was her husband who ultimately called the police about Espinosa’s erratic behavior. He had called them the previous month telling them that Espinosa was “basically looking for trouble, trying to fight someone.” He added that the experience at the time was pretty scary for his kids too.
First Public Footage
Officials continued to investigate how exactly Espinosa had died. He had been electrocuted and shot with sponge pellets before being sedated, perhaps it was just too much on his heart. In order to prevent rumor of police misconduct, the Fullerton police released bodycam video of the fatal incident. It was shocking, to say the least…
One Big Meth
This willingness to take ownership of their officers’ actions actually represents the first time the department has ever made such footage public before the investigation had been completed. The footage shows Espinosa’s father telling them in Spanish that his son was under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine.
“He’s out of his mind,” the man told an officer. Viewers can also hear Espinosa breathing hard as police do what they can to calm him down. The officers ask his father whether he would ever intentionally harm anyone, to which the man replies “Never.” Obviously, the officers were proof he was mistaken… can be heard breathing heavily as police attempt to calm him down.
He Was Warned
The most important thing about the video is that it shows Espinosa was warned. “If you come out here and do anything that’s illegal, we’ll have to take you to jail,” the officer tells him in the video. He then adds, “If you stay inside and sleep off your high and don’t hurt your and yourself, we’ll leave you here.”
Despite the fact that Espinosa’s family had told the officers they didn’t want any further action against their son, his actions against later that day necessitated their return and the action they did end up taking. Espinosa represented a threat to himself, the officers, and the community at large. Do you believe they had no choice? See the video of the dashcam footage below…