Man Dies While Being Taken Into Police Custody



The Davis Police reported early Thursday evening that a 54-year-old white male, not from Davis, died while being taken into custody by Davis Police Officers.

According to the release, at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, Davis Police Officers were dispatched to the La Quinta Inn & Suites, which is located on Research Park Dr. in South Davis, regarding a male subject screaming and yelling.

Police, upon arrival, heard the man yelling that he needed help and heard the sounds of items breaking inside his room. The individual also made statements that led officers to believe there was a gun in the room and there may have been another person in the room.

According to the statement, “Several of the officers are trained in crisis intervention and negotiations – all attempts at de-escalating the situation and to establish reasonable communication failed.”

At this point, the hotel room door was breached, following the refusal of the man to let officers inside. A confrontation ensued and the individual violently resisted being taken into custody.

According to police accounts, it took six officers to bring the individual under control. Four officers received minor injuries; one was treated and released at Sutter Davis.

Shortly after the individual was restrained, he stopped breathing. Despite medical personnel already being staged on-scene, and being able to quickly perform life-saving measures, the individual died.

Police said no one else was in the hotel room at the time of the incident.

Assistant Police Chief Darren Pytel told the Vanguard, “The large individual caused significant damage to the inside of the hotel room, including completely smashing the bathroom mirror, ripping the sink out, ripping the shower walls out, punching large holes in the walls, and destroying the door.  It was a very tense situation and the individual was completely non-responsive to responding officers’ attempts to negotiate with him through the room door.

“Hearing the subject mention a gun, his destructive behavior, and the lack of information about who else may be inside the hotel room concerned the responding officers,” Mr. Pytel told the Vanguard. “Officers coordinated the staging of emergency medical personnel and then forced entry into the room.”

He said, “As they attempted to physically control the individual, the officers were literally tossed around, punched, and kicked. After several failed attempts to get the man under control, he suddenly became non-responsive. Standby medical units rendered aid, but were not able to revive him.”

The matter is being investigated by the Davis Police Department, the Woodland Police Department, the Yolo County District Attorney, and the Yolo County Coroner. Darren Pytel said, “A full investigation of the incident was initiated. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday, which may help determine the cause of death.”

He added, “Davis Police Officers are trained to deal with these types of situations, including using crisis intervention techniques to de-escalate tense situations. However, there are times when people don’t respond to officers, despite their best efforts.  This was one of those cases.”

The Yolo County Coroner has not yet authorized the release of the individual’s name.

According to officials, this may be the first in-custody death involving the Davis Police Department.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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23 thoughts on “Man Dies While Being Taken Into Police Custody”

  1. PhilColeman

    From a review level alone, in-custody deaths, are at the top level of scrutiny by “others.” A lot of local officials will be working many long hours preparing seemingly endless reports. Any government agency that has any kind of custodial facility, this is their worst nightmare.

    There’s danger in speculation at this early stage, but the circumstances suggest we have here a man who would have benefited immensely from early-intervention mental health treatment. The several police officers who wake up today, taking a few minutes to be able to get out bed, would certainly agree.

  2. Tia Will


    As my partner ( a PhD psychologist with expertise in violence/self harm / suicide prevention) and I were discussing the limited information available this morning,  the two thoughts that we generated with regard to what causes such destructive capability in an individual were drugs and psychotic break, not necessarily in that order.

    My best wishes to the police officers involved, the unsuccessful rescuers, and the friends and family of this man all of whom will have to live with this horrible outcome.

  3. Davis Progressive

    this is a tragic situation for all involved.  the key for me will be understanding how the man died – was it the tactics that the police used to restrain him, was it health related, was it weight related, was it drug induced, etc.  once we know that we can weigh in on the matter.

    1. Anon

      Considering the man’s out of control behavior prior to the police arriving and before the police made entry, clearly something was very wrong with this man – he was so revved up he was throwing things around, etc.  Obviously the autopsy will indicate whether this death was drug related, but my guess is that will be the result.  Of course there is always the possibility because the police had to subdue him because of his erratic behavior, they could have piled on him and caused some physical damage.  But if someone is freaking out, it is not always an easy matter to subdue the person having a manic episode for whatever reason.  I would agree we have to wait until all the evidence is in…

        1. hpierce

          As opposed to just letting them “rant on”?  Closing the door and leaving?  Watching as it was a “reality TV” thing?  Under the circumstances, what would you have responders do “under those conditions”?

    1. Davis Progressive

      a couple of years ago the vanguard had an article on a county pilot program that davis was participating in that established a counselor accompanying the police.

  4. tj

    Passing a couple of Xanax under the door often has good results.

    (Or entering the room, telling the ill person that these pills will make them feel better, and exiting.)

    1. Davis Progressive

      which in my opinion is an under-utilized tactic that would prevent a lot of these incidents from escalating.  there is no reason to confront someone when they are hot under the collar if no one else is in danger.

    2. hpierce

      From David’s piece… “individual caused significant damage to the inside of the hotel room, including completely smashing the bathroom mirror, ripping the sink out, ripping the shower walls out, punching large holes in the walls, and destroying the door.”  Back off and wait for what?  Do you not think the individual was a danger to himself?  Or if someone is a great threat to themselves, should authorities and/or the community just “back off and wait”?

      1. gentlereader

        The destruction of the room is not worth the possible loss of life. Back off and wait for the person to calm down. Considering that the individual died, it’s kind of a moot point as to whether they are a danger to themselves. Yes, if someone is a great threat to themselves, and confrontation can cost officer lives, then that person should just be monitored but there should not be physical intervention.

    3. zaqzaq

      So they back off and wait and he kills himself somehow.  Then we are blaming the cops for not subduing him in a timely manner.  I just love the hindsight groupies here.

  5. tj

    Yes, back off and wait, that’s exactly correct.

    We all surely know by now that calling law enforcement is exactly NOT the right thing to do, unless you want the ill person killed.

    1. gentlereader

      Call law enforcement and a someone specifically trained for these types of things, get everyone else nearby safe (evac rooms, check to see who checked in to the room and if they checked in alone) and then monitor, but they don’t need to rush in every time. And if he DID have a gun and there WAS someone else in there, rushing is a good way to get that person killed.

      I don’t know the circumstances, but it seems that “rush in and subdue” is the only course of action. Why? What’s the hurry? The police can outwait anyone doing this.

  6. odd man out

    I’m more than a little surprised that no commenters have noted that according to the police, “the individual also made statements that led officers to believe there was a gun in the room and there may have been another person in the room.”

    Turns out, there wasn’t another person. However, had there been –and that person was you, would you really want the PD to take a “back off and wait” approach?

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