Man dies after struggle during arrest at Sonoma mobile home park
A man who authorities said was naked and causing a disturbance at a Sonoma mobile home park died Wednesday night after going into medical distress while police were trying to restrain him.
The man's age and name were not immediately released by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, which contracts with the city of Sonoma to provide police services.
Police said the incident began about 9:50 p.m. when deputies responded to reports of a suspicious person at the Sonoma Oaks mobile park on Ramon Street, in the northwestern part of the city. Residents of the park had said the man was “yelling, breaking glass, and slamming into things,” and deputies learned while on their way to the scene that the suspect was reportedly unclothed and using his bare hands to punch out decorative street lamps, police said.
“He was walking through screaming, yelling and punching, breaking these light globes out,” said Santa Rosa Police Lt. John Cregan, whose department is investigating the incident, per countywide protocol. “The suspect was bleeding profusely from his hands as a result of breaking these globes.”
Cregan said the suspect left a trail of blood on the ground and bloody hand prints on the lamps he was breaking.
Deputies found the suspect, who police described as “large” and naked, near the entrance to the park in the street, Sonoma Police Chief Bret Sackett said in a news release. The man did not listen to police orders and began moving toward the deputies, who then shot him with their Taser weapons and engaged in struggle handcuff the suspect, Sackett said. He did not say how many deputies were involved, but Cregan said two deputies were initially involved and had called in backup as the encounter escalated.
The suspect continued to resist deputies as they sought to detain him, so they restrained his legs with a hobble device in an effort to gain control of the situation, Cregan said. The man “went into medical distress” and appeared not to be breathing, so deputies called emergency responders who were already on standby, according to Cregan.
Paramedics were on scene “within seconds” and they rushed the man to Sonoma Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Cregan said.
The deputies involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave. Their names were withheld Thursday, but Sackett said they would be released at a later date.
The man was living at the Sonoma Oaks mobile home park where the incident occurred, according to Cregan. A neighbor at the 55-plus retirement community who declined to give his name said the suspect was the son of another resident.
The neighbor said the man had been “ranting and raving yelling ‘Destroy! Destroy!'” but he didn't see the confrontation with police.
Santa Rosa police cleared the scene at Sonoma Oaks just after 10 a.m., allowing residents to come and go for the first time in more than 12 hours. Water and suds remained on the asphalt of the private drive where blood from the man's cuts had been cleaned.
Drops of blood and broken glass dotted the 200-yard stretch of Ramon Street where he had broken lampposts with his hands.
Andre Guillory smoked a cigarette Thursday in front of his mobile home, about 20 feet from where the unidentified man died the night before. Glass from a broken light fixture was scattered on the crushed stone of his front yard.
“I heard a commotion and got up to see big man running down the street screaming and yelling,” Guillory said.
He didn't recognize the man but said he was tall and weighed about 300 pounds.
Guillory saw deputies try to subdue the man with Taser weapons and wrestle him to the ground. In the commotion it was unclear to him what exactly happened before the man died.
Another resident who wished to only use her first name, Diane, said she saw the man “screaming and yelling” just after 9 p.m.
“I said ‘You better get out of here or I'll call the police,'” she said.
He didn't, so she said she called police and went to bed. She didn't know the events that followed until police knocked on her door around 3:30 a.m. to ask her what she had seen.
Authorities are looking for anyone who witnessed the incident and anyone who might have cellphone video or other recordings to contact Santa Rosa Police's violent crimes unit at 543-3590.