Parents Claim Fresno Cops Drowned Their Son

     FRESNO, Calif. (CN) – Fresno police and sheriff’s officers killed a man by Tasering, pepper-spraying and hogtying him, then drowning him with a garden hose, the man’s parents claim in court.
     Paul and Eva Rosas sued the City and County of Fresno, three police officers and two sheriff’s deputies for the death of their son, Paul Rosas, who died in June 2011.
     Paul Rosas was at a friend’s house when defendant sheriff’s Officers Christian Lightner and Manuel Flores showed up, the parents say in the federal complaint. The complaint does not state why the deputies went to the house.
     “One of the defendants, Christian Lightner or Manuel Flores, used force against decedent, including pepper spray and punches and kicks to the decedent. Decedent was compliant with the deputies’ commands and he was neither assaultive nor combative with the deputies,” the parents say in the complaint.
     Defendant police Officers Sammy Ashworth and Troy Miller then entered the house and Tasered their son, the Rosas say. They claim the officers hogtied their son by cuffing his hands behind his back and tying his ankles to the handcuffs. They took him to the back yard and slammed his face onto a table, according to the complaint.
     Rosas “stated that he couldn’t breathe and that he needed water. Defendant Ashworth ran water from a hose onto decedent’s face and mouth. Decedent tried to move his mouth away from the water and gasp for air. A witness yelled, ‘He can’t breathe, you’re drowning him,’ but defendant Ashworth continued running water over decedent’s face,” the parents say in the complaint.
     After drowning him, the cops slammed back onto the table facedown, still handcuffed and hogtied, the parents say. Several officers then applied their weight to Rosas, while witnesses repeatedly asked them to stop because Rosas couldn’t breathe. By this time, at least 15 deputies and officers had arrived, the parents say in the complaint.
     “After 10 minutes, decedent had clear spit bubbles coming out of his mouth and decedent’s lips turned purple,” the complaint states.
     “Witnesses yelled that decedent was not breathing and pointed to the clear spit bubbles but again were ignored. One of the defendants claimed decedent was ‘faking it.’
     “Decedent eventually stopped breathing.
     “Decedent’s handcuffs were removed, his ankles were untied, and he was placed on his back on the ground. After some time had passed, an officer started doing compressions but no one would give decedent mouth to mouth.
     “A witness gave decedent mouth to mouth. An ambulance then arrived and took over trying to revive decedent.”
     The parents seek punitive damages for wrongful death.
     They are represented by Dale K. Galipo of Woodland Hills.

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