Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office Releases Report of Arturo Gomez In-Custody Death, Won’t Take Any Further Action

District Attorney Diana Becton via

By Tommy Nguyen

MARTINEZ, CA – The Contra Costa District Attorney report on the 2021 in-custody death of 33-year-old  Arturo Gomez in Antioch was released late last week as part of the county’s claimed commitment to be transparent with the public.

The incident involving Arturo Gomez began after midnight Feb. 24, 2021 when he placed a 911 call to the authorities claiming his phone had been hacked. While making the call, Gomez was in an argument with a Lyft driver and sounded paranoid, according to a dispatcher.

According to the report, while Gomez was traveling in the Lyft vehicle, he came into possession of the driver’s phone after Gomez asked to see the address he was going to. At one point, the driver said that he became fearful that Gomez was going to physically harm him, so he exited the vehicle after taking the car key.

Gomez was on a cell phone when the officers from Antioch Police said they arrived on the scene at Ridgerock Drive. Officers claim Gomez backed away as an officer approached him, and eventually led the enforcement officers on a foot chase where he ran into traffic on Lone Tree Way.

To mitigate the safety hazard caused by Gomez, the police said they had to set up a traffic break to prevent vehicles from traveling through the incident area. During his attempt to escape, Gomez tripped and fell to the ground on James Donlon Boulevard. He refused to stay on the ground when ordered to do so, the report reads.

Gomez continued to struggle and the officers eventually deployed tasers to handcuff him, said officer, who added that at no point did any of the officers involved use of the weight of their body on Gomez’s back or neck, nor did they use carotid restraint on him.

However, shortly after he was detained, Gomez became unresponsive and stopped moving altogether, according to the report, which notes officers rolled him onto his left side and noticed that his breathing had become labored and then began administering life-saving measures while emergency medical personnel were en route. Gomez died later at a local hospital.

The autopsy performed by a Dr. Arnold Josselson later revealed Gomez had consumed large doses of methamphetamine and amphetamine prior to his detainment. It was concluded that Gomez died from “asphyxia and cardiac arrest while in a prone position during a struggle with police after being tased while under the influence of methamphetamine.” 

During his testimony at the Coroner’s Inquest in 2022, Dr. Josselson explained to the jurors the three-step process that led to Gomez’s death. In the end, the jury reached a unanimous verdict that Arturo Gomez’s death was an accident. 

The DA’s Office concluded in its legal analysis that, given the totality of facts in this incident, the use of force by Antioch Police Officers was lawful and therefore, there will be no further action taken regarding the in-custody death of Gomez. 

The released report is part of the Contra Costa County protocol to investigate incidents where police officers or civilians are shot or die during an encounter with law enforcement. 

The DA’s Office conducts its own independent investigation into law enforcement fatal incidents (LEIFI), which was finally made public. 

“My administration has been committed to public safety, transparency, and increased accountability since I was elected in 2018,” District Attorney Diana Becton noted. 

Becton added, “The LEIFI investigations are an example of that commitment to be transparent with the public about in-custody deaths like that of Mr. Gomez.”

About The Author

Tommy is a sophomore majoring in Economics and minoring in Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He is an international student from Vietnam and fueled with the frustration agaisnt flawed justice system that lets down the minority. He is aspired to become a criminal justice attorney and will hopefully attend law school in 2025.

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