An attorney for the father of a transient who died following a struggle with Anaheim police and an attorney representing the city are scheduled to continue with opening statements Thursday in a lawsuit against the city.
Christopher Eisinger, who was 35, got into a struggle with Anaheim police just after midnight on March 2, 2018, and died March 10, 2018.
An attorney for Eisinger’s father told jurors Wednesday in his opening statement that his client was not the subject of a 911 call and would have been unlikely to be up to mischief as he carried a large pink toy before his encounter with officers.
Eisinger was carrying a large pink and turquoise party supply tube that pops confetti as he was walking down the street.
“It was so obvious and hard to miss,” said attorney Eric Dubin, who represents Eisinger’s father, Gregory.
“What Chris didn’t know was that in five minutes he was going to speak the final three words of his life and those words will tell you a story about the evidence,” Dubin said.
“Someone called 911,” Dubin said, “but the 911 caller did not say anything about a big pink toy in his hand.”
A police sergeant pulled up, his gun drawn for a call regarding “petty larceny suspicion,” Dubin said.
“Chris drops the toy immediately and tries to walk away, and then he runs,” Dubin said.
“Eventually, he pins him down, face first on the concrete,” Dubin said.
When several other officers with a “pack mentality” arrived on scene, they pinned Eisinger down with “800 pounds” of pressure, and one of the officers failed to alert the others he was not going to try to handcuff the suspect, Dubin alleged.
“He decided he was not going to try to handcuff Mr. Eisenger because he was worried about injuring his shoulder,” Dubin said. “He decides he’s going to keep all this weight on him until he wears himself out… The decision not to handcuff proved to be fatal.”
The officers said Eisinger was uttering “gibberish,” but Dubin said his client was saying, “Dude, I’m so sorry… On my face… It really hurts… Get off me… Pull me up.”
Dubin added, “Nowhere in America is talking gibberish a crime.”
Dubin acknowledged that Eisinger had “a little” methamphetamine in his system and a drug pipe in his pocket.”
But he faulted police for not doing a more thorough investigation of whether Eisinger was the one who triggered the 911 call. Dubin said when police held a news conference and held up a mug shot of Eisinger that the 911 caller said that he wasn’t the one she called police about.
Dubin said Eisinger’s DNA or fingerprints were not on the door that the 911 caller said the suspect pulled on.
“Was he intoxicated? Yes,” Dubin said. “Did he suffer from schizophrenia? Yes. Was he homeless? Yes.”
But pointing that out is a tactic to “prejudice” the jury, Dubin said.
“Why did he run?” Dubin said. “Let me present it this way. Why didn’t the officer say, `Do you live here?’ ”
Dubin said the only “match” in the suspect description was that his client was Black.
“He was the first Black they saw,” Dubin said. “That’s all they’re looking for is Black.”