Skip to main content

Review Of McNeil In-Custody Death Finds Sheriff’s Deputy Violated Procedure

Earl McNeil, who died after an encounter with the National City Police, is sh...

Credit: Tammy Davis

Above: Earl McNeil, who died after an encounter with the National City Police, is shown in an undated photo.

KPBS Midday Edition Segments podcast branding

San Diego County's Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board sustained a finding that a San Diego sheriff's deputy violated procedure when he placed a shirt over Earl McNeil's head while detaining him.

Aired: October 10, 2019 | Transcript

San Diego County's Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board sustained a finding that a San Diego sheriff's deputy violated procedure when he placed a shirt over Earl McNeil's head while detaining him.

The review board's investigators said that placing a shirt over McNeil's face might have contributed to his death. Investigators found this violated the sheriff's use of force guidelines, which says a person's mouth and nose shall never be obstructed. The review board on Tuesday voted to agree with the investigator's findings.

RELATED: What Happened To Earl McNeil?

McNeil's family is suing the officers involved in McNeil's death. Their attorney Doug Applegate says these citizen reviews of in-custody deaths are key.

"If you want transformational change in how law enforcement policies your communities you have to show up when there's a question of whether or not police officers, sheriff's deputies acted appropriately," Applegate said.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephen previously cleared all officers and deputies from criminal liability.

In a statement to KPBS, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said it does not see enough evidence to support the finding that McNeil's shirt was used in a way that affected his breathing.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.