Whittier family plans legal action against police after son with mental illness dies

WHITTIER, Calif. (KABC) -- The family of a Whittier man who battled mental illness spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News about a fatal encounter he had with police and what they're doing about it.

Photos the family shared showed Jonathan Salcido throughout his childhood.

"He knew he needed to be hospitalized. He wanted to go to the hospital. He packed his bag to go to the hospital. This would have been his fourth voluntary admission," Jasmin Salcido said.

Jasmin Salcido, Jonathan's mother, was her 27-year-old son's conservator. She, her husband Gary and their daughter sat down with Eyewitness News reporter Jade Hernandez.

On May 4, her son's mental state deteriorated and his 60-year-old mother called police.

Photos taken at the scene showed how officers wrestled the young man to the ground after he tried to jump the fence.

The family said several officers stayed on top of Jonathan, even after he was handcuffed. When they got up, he wasn't breathing and never regained consciousness.

"It's horrific. The pain, the suffering. I see my wife crying every day, every day, sometimes hysterically," Gary Salcido said.

Jonathan's father said his two surviving daughters handle their grief in different ways. His oldest, Jennifer, said she wants the police held accountable.

"This didn't have to happen, and police officers should be trained to identify the signs that would help them better address and provide the assistance that persons with mental illness need," the family's attorney Cindy Panuco said.

The Whittier Police Department said the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the county district attorney are investigating the death.

The family will formally announce legal action Wednesday.
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