In a video released by the Sacramento Police Department on Wednesday, officers first approach John Hernandez on March 6 in front of a business on Alhambra Boulevard, where he had allegedly offered to fight strangers. Hernandez is uncooperative and runs away, later entering a medical office building where police used a Taser and baton to subdue him. He fell unconscious, and remains in the hospital with severe brain damage. Sacramento Police Department
In a video released by the Sacramento Police Department on Wednesday, officers first approach John Hernandez on March 6 in front of a business on Alhambra Boulevard, where he had allegedly offered to fight strangers. Hernandez is uncooperative and runs away, later entering a medical office building where police used a Taser and baton to subdue him. He fell unconscious, and remains in the hospital with severe brain damage. Sacramento Police Department

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Police release video of incident that left man with severe brain damage

By Cathy Locke

clocke@sacbee.com

April 05, 2017 07:25 PM

UPDATED April 06, 2017 11:17 AM

Sacramento police released dashboard camera and surveillance videos of a March 6 confrontation with 34-year-old John Hernandez, who callers to 911 said was belligerent and trying to fight people in a parking lot in the 1100 block of Alhambra Boulevard.

None of the videos show the struggle between Hernandez and officers that led to him being struck with a stun gun and baton in the hallway of a medical office building, after which he stopped breathing and suffered serious brain damage, according to his family. It was unclear Wednesday if such a video exists.

The videos released show the initial encounter with officers, Hernandez fleeing on foot into the medical building and officers pursuing him into that building.

In one video, when the first officer arrives, Hernandez is sitting on a curb in the parking lot of the Rite Aid store on Alhambra Boulevard. The officer instructs Hernandez to lie on the ground, but Hernandez does not comply and runs away after a second officer arrives.

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Later security video shows him running into the nearby medical office building with officers in pursuit. Police said officers used a Taser several times in an effort to subdue Hernandez but the Taser had no effect. An officer then used a closed baton in a jabbing motion to Hernandez’s upper back, which also had no effect, according to a Police Department news release issued with the videos.

Hernandez struggled with officers for several minutes before they were able to detain and handcuff him, police said. Hernandez was alert and conscious when he was detained, but shortly after firefighters arrived Hernandez stopped breathing, and emergency medical personnel administered CPR for 25 minutes before transporting him to Sutter General Hospital, the department said.

Hernandez remains hospitalized in intensive care with severe brain damage.

Police released the videos late Wednesday afternoon along with audio recordings of 911 calls and radio traffic related to the incident. The audio and video were made available to the media and public through Dropbox and YouTube. The police news release and timeline of the incident, along with links to the video and audio clips, were posted on the department’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account, @sacpolice.

The violent confrontation unfolded on a Monday afternoon last month.

Police dispatchers began receiving calls at 1:53 p.m. The first caller, a woman, reported a shirtless man acting belligerent and trying to fight people and going up to cars in the Rite Aid parking lot on Alhambra Boulevard. The woman called back to say that the man was now wearing a black hoodie. A man then called with a similar report.

In a dashboard camera video, after Hernandez flees on foot, one officer can be heard saying “Let him run.”

Surveillance video shows Hernandez running into the medical building with officers in pursuit. He appears to try to enter an office or elevator, but then runs down the hall as officers enter the building.

At one point, the news release said, Hernandez stopped in a narrow hallway, turned, faced the officers and took a fighting stance. Officers tackled Hernandez in an attempt to detain him but met with violent resistance, and a 3 1/2 -minute struggle ensued, police said.

Hernandez’s family told The Sacramento Bee that police described the situation to them as a “bad altercation” and advised them to go to the hospital, where Hernandez was on life support. Hernandez’s mother, Debbie Hernandez, said she believes excessive police force left her son in a unresponsive state from which doctors say he may never fully recover.

In Wednesday’s statement, police said: “Based on a local hospital’s medical evaluation of Mr. Hernandez, he was found to have superficial abrasions only. There is no indication of significant trauma or injury. In addition, Mr. Hernandez had a very high level of methamphetamine in his system at the time of the incident.”

Police said the investigation is continuing and has been conducted with oversight by the city’s independent Office of Public Safety Accountability.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy