USA – San Bernadino, California – Kephart death [in May 2011] draws $4.25 million settlement (2013-10-03)

Published on October 3 2013 by admin

[[SUMMARY / COMMENTS : Allen Kephart died after receiving multiple taser discharges in 2011 in what was clearly excessive use of force. The municipality has agreed to pay $4.25-million in damages to his family. The coroner determined the cause of death as “Obesity, Physical Duress in Altercation While Being Taken into Custody,” labeling Kephart’s death as a “homicide.”]]

Apelhorn News, by Gail Fry

Staff Writer

According to a signed Stipulation for Settlement provided by San Bernardino County Public Information Officer David Wert, San Bernardino County has reached a settlement in the amount of $4.25 million in the death of Allen Kephart, a local mountain resident.

Kephart died on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, following a traffic stop for allegedly running a stop sign on the corner of Highway 189 and Daley Canyon Road. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Ismael Diaz was the pursuing officer when a short chase of .9 miles fatefully ended at the Valero Gas Station in Rimforest at around 3:24 p.m.

The Alpenhorn News heard from witnesses that young school children were exiting their bus across the street while numerous Valero customers were confronted by a rapidly developing violent confrontation between officers and Kephart, a 375-pound, 6 foot 3 inch, 43-year old man

A transcript of Diaz’s belt recorder released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBCSD) indicates that Kephart was struggling to understand Diaz’s commands, with Diaz ordering Kephart to get on the ground, Kephart saying, “Help me” more than once, Diaz saying, “Stop resisting me” before beginning to administer a Taser numerous times with, according to the transcript, Kephart responding to every Taser activation, while the deputies struggled with placing handcuffs on Kephart

According to Diaz’s interview, Diaz unsuccessfully applied a chokehold, so he reached around Kephart’s neck, pulled him to the ground and called dispatch to report he was 415 (fighting) with Kephart. Diaz claimed in his interview he believed his Taser to have been inoperable and many usual methods of controlling a suspect were ineffective due to Kephart’s size

The transcript of Diaz’s belt recorder revealed Diaz later saying, “Dude, I tased him I don’t know how many times. The transcript indicates the sheriff’s deputy called for an ambulance then noticed Kephart was not breathing

The sheriff’s deputies administered chest compressions in an attempt to restart Kephart’s heart. By 4:25 p.m., Kephart was pronounced dead at Mountains Community Hospital.

The coroner determined the cause of death as “Obesity, Physical Duress in Altercation While Being Taken into Custody,” labeling Kephart’s death as a “homicide.”

A San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office interoffice memorandum dated January 23, 2012, found Kephart had been tased sixteen times, while explaining, �Any death caused at the hands of another is labeled a homicide. The label does not imply any judgment of criminality. The District Attorney’s Office declined to file any charges related to Kephart’s death.

On August 30, 2011, Kephart’s parents filed their wrongful death lawsuit against the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department regarding the May 10 homicide death of their son. The lawsuit claimed Kephart posed no threat and was in obvious respiratory and/or cardiac arrest, with officers failing to perform CPR or call emergency medical assistance for 10 to 15 minutes.

The 2012/13 San Bernardino County Grand Jury examined SBCSD’s Taser policy finding, Taser related deaths are not uncommon in San Bernardino County. The Grand Jury report made several recommendations to the Sheriff’s Department with regard to its Taser policy.

As reported in a September 9 article in the Press Enterprise, SBCSD disputed a critical civil grand jury report on its use of Taser guns and its handling of citizen complaints in its official response.

According to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, Diaz has been involved in two more incidents since Kephart’s death that have resulted in the death of a citizen at the hands of the Sheriff’s Department. A call to Jack and Carol Kephart, Allen Kephart’s parents, requesting comment went unreturned as of press time.


Comments are closed.