Jose Lizarraga Garcia’s last moments of life were caught on video. He died in police custody in the parking lot of the Cardenas parking lot in Indio in January. The Indio Police Department released all video they collected of the death including from officer body camera. In a statement they said it was for transparency.
Francisco Rios, Garcia’s brother says watching the video was more than he could bear but shows his brother did not die in police custody, “This was murder,” adding that it’s clear officers used excessive force, “they knew what they did because then even though when he went quiet and he was just limp they were just putting all this gear on him … they kind of perpetuated to a point where it didn’t need to go, every part of that video just hurt.”
He says there’s also missing video but captured on cell phone that show an illegal choke hold, “The body cam footage they chopped it up … there’s picture and videos a move that they used on my brother, they basically choked him out,”
Indio Police says they released all video through a third party so they would not be accused of selective editing.
He understands people were scared seeing him run from store to store he heard the 911 call too.
“Absolute crazy guy running around … you got a lot of scared citizens here,” says one caller.
But Rios sees it differently, “He just needed help, he wanted help and no one was there.”
We reached out to Dr. Glen Haas, a retired law enforcement commander with three decades of experience who teaches use of force and de-escalation to departments across the country and had him analyze the videos.
To him it’s immediately clear Garcia this was already beyond de-escalation because police could not communicate with him
“He’s not able to communicate on a rational level now they have to stop the person until they transport him, get him help,” adding now they’re forced to take action.
“They restrain their hands they have the handcuffs on that does not mean the person is still not a threat, one of the threats is the ability to spit so they put the mask on, the person’s still a threat because they have legs that can kick … now they go to try to restrain the person’s legs … but you can see that they’re using hands, they’re using open palm hands that are holding the person down not a significant use of force, it’s a restraint to try to keep the person down while they’re applying this leg wrap … there’s nothing here that shows any misconduct any excessive force you have officers that are standing by and watching, no profanity, they’re being professional no punches being thrown,” he says as he watches.
From his experience, officers have no choice in but to restrain the person to prevent him and others from getting hurt.
“If you sent paramedics without the police you still have to restrain the person that’s the reality of it, you’re kind of caught in this unfortunate loop that the person has to be restrained the restraint can still lead to some negative consequences but they still need to be restrained,” says Haas.
There’s no question it’s a tough video to watch with a tragic ending.
“You don’t typically in your life deal with conflict and deal with violence and somebody who literally probably passes away on the video it’s a tough thing … despite what we see on T.V. that’s entertainment this is reality and somebody loses their life,” says Haas.
But Garcia says the officers need to face the justice system they deprived his brother, “They need to be arrested and they need to be judged for what they did, it’s not right my brother never got that chance … it’ hurts, it’s hurts and I want justice for my brother.”