Family members of a California man who died after being arrested by police officers are demanding answers. Last Tuesday (Dec. 15), 33-year-old Ernie Serrano passed away after he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon following an incident in a grocery store in Jurupa Valley. Video footage captured Riverside County sheriff’s deputies beating the victim with a baton repeatedly. They also used a taser and pepper spray on Serrano.
According to body cam footage released by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Serrano was bleeding from his face as he was being handcuffed. He yelled for the officers to let him go and at one point he screamed, “Excessive force.”
“This doesn’t happen to people in Sherman Oaks or in the Valley to white people in the store. You don’t see a cop run up to them and hit them with a baton,” Attorney Humberto Guizar, who represents Serrano’s family, said.
“He was not hitting nobody back, he was not fighting like they said he was,” said Maria Serrano, the mother of Ernie Serrano. “He was taking the hits and they put him on the floor and they killed him. He died right there. He didn’t die at the hospital. He died right there.”
On Monday (Dec. 21), Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said a preliminary autopsy determined Serrano’s cause of death as acute methamphetamine intoxication — which caused an irregular heartbeat as he struggled with the officers. The autopsy also showed bruising on his stomach and right arm, which were consistent with marks created from a baton.
Serrano’s family is now calling for an independent autopsy and they are planning to file a lawsuit. Attorney Guizar believes the officers held Serrano down in a compromised position for too long and that led to his death, not an alleged overdose.