Orange County prosecutors announced Wednesday they found no criminal culpability on the part of officers involved in the arrest of a suspect, who died in Orange following a struggle with police and was later found to have methamphetamine in his system.
Jose Albert Aguirre, who was 54, died Jan. 31.
Officer Anthony Castaneda first encountered Aguirre while on patrol on Chapman Avenue about 2:35 a.m. that day, according to a report written by Senior Deputy District Attorney Janine Madera.
Castaneda saw Aguirre was walking in the road without any reflective clothing so he stopped him to see if he was OK, Madera said.
When asked why he was standing in the road, Aguirre did not respond. When he tried to walk away, Castaneda told him to sit back down, but Aguirre punched the officer in the face, according to Madera.
Meanwhile, Chapman University Patrol Officer Joseph Garcia, who had stopped to observe the arrest, jumped in to try to help Castaneda. Garcia tried to get Aguirre to comply with orders using a collapsible baton, but it had “little effect on Aguirre,” Madera wrote, adding that the officers felt the suspect “was exhibiting superhuman strength.”
Garcia later tried to subdue Aguirre with pepper spray, but the suspect continued to be combative through the time that Orange Police Department Officer Mitchell Pfyl arrived on scene to help handcuff Aguirre, according to the report.
Aguirre lost consciousness and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly after arrival, Madera said.
During an autopsy, a baggie of methamphetamine was found in Aguirre’s small intestine and the cause of death was determined to be acute methamphetamine intoxication.