San Leandro sued in Oakland man’s death

by Henry K. Lee
S.F. Chronicle Thursday, July 26, 2012

The mother of a man who was high on methamphetamine when he died after struggling with San Leandro police has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.

Darnell Hutchinson, 32, of Oakland had been acting paranoid and scaring customers at the Nation’s Giant Hamburgers restaurant at 1335 Washington Ave. on Oct. 9.

Employees called police after Hutchinson refused to leave. Officers tried to take him into protective custody, but he became “physically combative,” San Leandro police Lt. Jeff Tudor has said.

An officer shot Hutchinson with his stun gun, but it had little or no effect, police said. Four officers finally managed to handcuff him, police said.

Hutchinson immediately began showing signs of distress. He died at a hospital.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Hutchinson’s mother, Katherine Hutchinson, said officers engaged in an “unlawful assault. The officers held Mr. Hutchinson down by digging their knees and feet into his body and leveraging their bodies against his and the pavement.” The suit, filed by Oakland attorney John Burris, seeks unspecified damages.

Hutchinson died of acute methamphetamine intoxication, authorities said.

An internal investigation determined that the officers had acted appropriately, Tudor said.