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Moreno Valley custody death: Autopsy reveals man was high on PCP

Raymond Johnson, 41, is seen in this family photo.

December 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
An autopsy on the man who died after a violent confrontation with Moreno Valley police revealed that he was under the influence of PCP.

Raymond Johnson, 41, was seen sitting inside a vehicle outside a Burger King near the 23000 block of Hemlock Avenue, violently kicking his feet and striking his fists in an uncontrollable manner, on Oct. 11. When officers arrived, police say Johnson was agitated and refused to get out of his vehicle, even after officers used pepper spray and a Taser.

Video shows officers pulling him out, then beating him with what appears to be a baton. Authorities said the baton was used to loosen Johnson's grip on the under carriage of the passenger seat so he could be removed from the vehicle. But the baton was ineffective, police said, so an officer kicked Johnson in his shoulder area.

Eventually, Johnson was removed from the vehicle, handcuffed and placed on the ground. As he was laying on the ground, police noticed that he had stopped breathing. Officers gave him chest compressions, but he died at the hospital.

A coroner listed the cause of death as "hypertensive cardiovascular disease with other significant condition of Acute Phencyclidine (PCP) intoxication and physical altercation with law enforcement."

Hypertensive cardiovascular disease means Johnson had a significantly enlarged heart and was at a greater risk for sudden cardiac death, particularly when stressed, the coroner noted in a report. Johnson had .142 mg/L of PCP in his system, which the coroner noted "is at a level consistent with other fatalities involving PCP where there was no other apparent reason for the death."

The manner of death was listed as homicide, but the coroner stated that the term does not imply criminal intentions.

"It is simply defined as any death which is not an accident or suicide and where a volitional act was directed toward the decedent that leads to their death," the coroner wrote in a report.

Johnson's family has filed a $30 million lawsuit against the county for excessive force.


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