Public weighs in on custody death of Earl McNeil
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board, or CLERB, voted to sustain a finding that the unnamed deputy violated the department’s use-of-force policy in the in-custody death of Earl McNeil back in June.
Investigators with the county’s law enforcement review board concluded last week that a San Diego sheriff’s deputy violated department policy when he pulled a t-shirt over McNeil’s face as he was struggling to breathe.
Earl McNeil died after a struggle with National City police, sparking weeks of protests as officers were accused of excessive force and failing to provide “critically needed” medical care.
McNeil died June 11, about two weeks after he got into an altercation with officers. Officers placed him in handcuffs, and, when he began to struggle, they detained him using a restraint system on suspicion of being under the influence.
The restraint system uses a stiff blanket to immobilize a person’s legs, and a strap between the chest and ankles to keep a person upright and breathing. McNeil was in the device for nearly two hours, and also had a two spit socks placed over his head to keep him from spitting on officers.
McNeil soon stopped breathing. He never regained consciousness and, two weeks later, died of brain damage caused by respiratory arrest, according to his autopsy.