Another In-Custody Death for DPD


For the second time since October, the Davis Police Department had a subject that they had taken into custody die on the scene.

Davis Police Deputy Chief Ton Pham told the Vanguard that, on Friday morning at 5:20 am, the police dispatch received a call about a naked man, a white male, believed to be in his late 40s, running around the Pacifico student housing cooperative. The man was running around, disturbing people and believed to be under the influence of drugs.

When the officers arrived on scene, they located him, handcuffed him and “without any struggle or use of force” took him into custody. He immediately began having difficulty breathing. Medical personnel were on the scene and began immediately administering CPR. He was transported to Sutter Davis Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:20 am.

Dep. Chief Pham reiterated, “He did not resist being handcuffed, we didn’t have to do any force.”

This is the second in-custody death in Davis since October. David Elwood Shurtz, Jr., 54, of Sacramento died when being taken into custody at La Quinta Inn in South Davis back on October 15.

In that incident, Mr. Shurtz was screaming and yelling in his hotel room, and the police arrived to find him yelling that he needed help and heard the sounds of items breaking inside his room. He 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.

The coroner’s office has released the cause of death for Mr. Shurtz as “sudden cardio-respiratory arrest during physical altercation with police officers due to excited delirium due to acute methamphetamine intoxication.”

Sources tell the Vanguard that Daivd Shurtz had massive levels of meth in his system. His conduct at the scene and his refusal to cooperate led to a breach of the hotel door by the police, a confrontation ensued and the individual violently resisted being taken into custody. Police used a Taser on him and shortly after being restrained, he stopped breathing.

Despite medical personnel already being staged on the scene and being able to quickly perform life-saving measures, the individual died.

The current incident is different. This individual, while exhibiting chaotic behavior at the time of the police call, did not resist arrest. However, he too stopped breathing and required medical attention that ultimately was unsuccessful at saving his life.

Dep. Chief Pham said that the police could not release his name until the coroner’s investigation had been completed. However, he did confirm he was a resident at Pacifico.

—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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  1. Tia Will

    Two questions.

    What is the police protocol for the level of medically trained personnel that must be present when these types of agitated behavior are encountered ? With extremely limited information, it sounds as though appropriate personnel were on the scene at the time of these incidents.

    When these type of agitated behaviors are encountered, is it police policy to take the individual directly to the hospital for evaluation for the possibility of drug related behavior ? Although it does not seem that it would have made a difference in either of these circumstances, it could be critical to the prevention of a future such event.


    1. David Greenwald

      Tia, I believe the answers to those questions are they were immediately transported to the hospital. However the EMT attempted to revive him first. The answer to your question is we are talking about in the ambulance and paramedics, not doctors.

  2. Tia Will


    Correct. Robert was able to clarify for me about the transport policy. Apparently it is the policy to take any detainee suspected of excited delirium directly to the ER for clearance prior to being taken to jail.

  3. Miwok

    If these people are killing themselves with drugs and other substance abuse, then why are the PD being taken to task for being a first responder? If the guy was already dead when they found him, would the Vanguard be indicting the medical establishment for not saving his life?

    If the person took something accidentally or otherwise, something that ultimately killed them, Just being there at some point in the timetable does not make you responsible. What about the neighbors?

    While maybe this is tragic (I don’t think so, he wasn’t driving a car in a school zone, for example), the guy got his ultimate high and croaked. You want to make reasonable assumptions about unreasonable acts. Doesn’t happen, in physics, or with this article.

    1. hpierce

      What you fail to understand, Miwok, is there are many who hold society responsible, particularly the ones that work on behalf of society, to save everyone from any bad outcome, no matter how many or how serious “stupids” they have committed…

      1. Tia Will


        If these people are killing themselves with drugs and other substance abuse, then why are the PD being taken to task for being a first responder? “

        I am perplexed by your question. I do not see anything in either article or the comments that implied that any one was “taking the PD to task”. I certainly implied nothing of the sort by questioning what the actual policy is which was to clarify, not to judge and I saw nothing in the article casting aspersions on the poice. So I am not sure what point you are making.


  4. Biddlin

    What some hyperbolic posters fail to consider is that, as a society, most of us will try to rescue another human in distress, without pondering how they got there. Even those who would pass judgement might remember that the person at risk has loved ones and family who consider them to be worthy of life. The loss of that life is tragic, to someone.

  5. South of Davis

    >a white male, believed to be in his late 40s, running around the

    >Pacifico student housing cooperative.

    I’ve asked this many times (but never got an answer).

    1. Why don’t any (traditional) “students” (vs. 40 year old drug users) live at the (city owned) Pacifico “student” housing cooperative?

    2. Why has the building (on the bike trail close to UCD) been more than 50% (half) vacant when the vacancy rate at other apartments in town is 0.5 % (one half of one percent) vacant?

    3. Why doesn’t the city sell the property to someone who will fix the place up and rent it to students (or other people)?

    1. hpierce

      Damn good questions… assuming the ‘posits’ are correct… does the City still own Pacifico?  What is the vacancy rate?  I have no reason to doubt either of the posits… have no trouble believing both of those… just seeking documentation…

      1. South of Davis

        hpierce wrote:

        > does the City still own Pacifico?

        I just sent an e-mail to a Realtor friend who looked up the ownership and the current owner of Pacifico is listed as “Davis City Of” with a mailing address of “23 Russell Blvd.”

        I’m not 100% sure, (but I’m 90% sure) that like UC owned property in town the city is not paying any property tax (or parcel taxes) on this place (as they let is sit more than half empty year after year).

        It is funny that more people in town are worried about a train with oil blowing up than a multi-million dollar city owned asset that the city won’t rent (to get money) or sell (to get millions and tens of thousands of tax and parcel tax money every year going forward)…

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