Sacramento to Pay Largest Amount in History after Police Beat, Taser man to Coma
A settlement agreed to by the Sacramento city council is believed to be the largest on record by the city and doubles the payout amount for its 24 lawsuits in 2018.
The family of John Hernandez, 34, says he needs care 24/7 and has the mental capacity of a toddler.
Police officers involved, along with the city of Sacramento, "dispute liability" but agreed to settle to avoid a lengthy and costly trial, Sacramento City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood said.
Hernandez "threatened a number of citizens with violence and was a threat to the community," and had methamphetamine in his system, Wood said in prepared statements.
Sacramento police officers encountered Hernandez March 6, 2017 after someone called 911 reporting he was acting strange near a pharmacy, court records show.
Hernandez fled on foot after officers arrived, but three tackled him.
During a struggle, he was jabbed with a baton five or six time and Tasered nine times, an attorney for the city of Sacramento said during a trial brief.
As a result of the struggle, Hernandez stopped breathing and was "completely without oxygen to his brain" for more than 10 minutes before he underwent cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
However, attorney for the city argued Hernandez was still breathing when paramedics arrived on the scene.
Hernandez was in a coma for days after the encounter with police.
"There can be never be a winner after a horrific tragedy like this but Mr. Hernandez's settlement will ensure that he can be cared for in the years to come," John Burris, the Hernandez family attorney, said.
"This really started out as a minor event," Burris explained.
"This is a man who may have been creating a public disturbance, but he wasn't physically assaulting anyone; he didn't have a weapon....But under the principles of de-escalation, (police) could have slowed this process down. So it's an unfortunate set of circumstances that created this environment."
Burris said the $5.2 million settlement will be used to pay for Hernandez's physical and speech rehabilitation as well as occupational therapy and ongoing 24-hour supervision and care.