Ernie Serrano Biography — Wiki
Ernie Serrano is the man whose police body camera video was released on Monday by authorities in Southern California, showing his violent arrest in a grocery store earlier this month. Serrano died after a December 15 confrontation with Riverside County Sheriff deputies and a security guard at a Stater Bros. grocery store. The deputies were called to investigate reports of battery and assault with a deadly weapon.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco on Monday released a video and shared details regarding the death of a 33-year-old convicted felon who died while handcuffed in a Jurupa Valley grocery store, where he spent hours erratically coming and going while under the influence of drugs.
Ernie Serrano Age
Ernie Serrano, of Jurupa Valley, California, which is east of Los Angeles, was 33 years old at the time of death.
Ernie Serrano dies while in police custody, as the video released by authorities
Several minutes of store surveillance video show Ernie Serrano at a checkout line, possibly to purchase items, and walking around the area. A security guard confronts him and they appear to get into a physical struggle. In a Tuesday news conference, Sheriff Chad Bianco said Serrano tried to take the security guard’s holstered firearm before the altercation. The guard used a Taser and pepper spray on Serrano, but it failed to subdue him.
“This is in the interest of transparency,” Bianco said during a media briefing at sheriff’s headquarters in downtown Riverside.
Serrano was booked on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance and felony obstructing a peace officer. However, because the county correctional system is operating under court-mandated capacity limitations due to the coronavirus public health emergency, Serrano was released on his own recognizance the following morning.
That evening, he went to the market, and for the next “two to three hours” floated in and out of the store, exhibiting bizarre behavior, “cutting in front of people in the shopping aisles” and on several occasions trying to buy goods by offering his driver’s license as a payment device, according to the sheriff.
What the footage/video shows
Four sheriff’s deputies arrive minutes later and appear to strike him with a baton and deploy a Taser as well. After pinning him on a checkout counter, a bloodied Serrano is heard saying, “Let me go” several times, according to police body camera footage.
They place a spit mask over his face. After one deputy says Serrano doesn’t appear to be breathing, they put him on the floor and begin life-saving measures.
The tape showed the suspect going from one checkout lane to another, stepping in front of customers or attempting to conduct a transaction while others were handling their own. Multiple store employees, including managers, engaged Serrano, gesturing for him to leave or move aside.
No one appeared aggressive as the suspect aimlessly wandered back and forth, holding a bag of groceries.
An armed security guard, who was apparently called to the location, confronted Serrano in a checkout lane and tried to escort him out of the store, at which point a tussle ensued.
Over five to 10 minutes, the guard and Serrano fought, with the latter battling the guard’s attempts to pull him toward the front of the store.
The guard deployed both a Taser and pepper spray to subdue Serrano, whom Bianco alleged “tried to remove the guard’s handgun.”
The non-lethal products had no effect on the suspect, and when deputies rushed into the business, the struggle was still in full swing, according to the video footage. The guard broke off combat when the deputies approached.
“Our deputies intervened and tried to detain Mr. Serrano, but he did not comply,” Bianco said. “A Taser was used, and he fell to the ground, but then he got back on his feet.”
Ernie Serrano Death and Cause of Death
Images showed a deputy using his baton on the suspect’s right arm and leg to make him desist, but Serrano seemed impervious to the strikes. Another deputy then tackled the suspect, and with the help of three others, corralled him, pushing him onto a checkout counter, using two sets of handcuffs to restrain him.
“My name is Ernie Serrano!” the suspect shouted, giving his date of birth. “Let me go! Let me go! Why did you tase me?'”
Serrano was bleeding from a gash over his left eye, and the blood was flowing into his mouth, prompting him to spit numerous times. As a health precaution, a “spit shield” was placed over his head, according to Bianco.
“Take the mask off!” Serrano said, coughing and seemingly short of breath.
A deputy who was involved in the prior day’s arrest noted that when he and his partner took Serrano to a hospital for a pre-booking medical examination, “his heart rate was like 190.” Deputies held Serrano on the checkout counter for about seven or eight minutes, repeatedly asking him to calm down.
However, he abruptly went silent and limp, at which point a corporal yelled, “He’s stopped breathing.”
Serrano was laid on the floor, where deputies removed the handcuffs and mask, initiating chest compressions for Cal Fire paramedics, who had been staging outside the store. They tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead a short time later at Riverside Community Hospital.
The preliminary finding of the cause of death was acute methamphetamine intoxication that caused a fatal arrhythmia during his struggle with deputies, Bianco said. Toxicology tests showed Serrano was under the influence of methamphetamine, benzodiazepines and marijuana at the time of his death.
What we know so far about Ernie Serrano attorney
Humberto Guizar, an attorney for the Serrano family, said the position Serrano was held in contributed to this death.
“I think the sheriff thought that by showing the video of him struggling, that he was resisting and uncooperative… I think that hurts them more than helps them,” he told Fox News. “They didn’t follow their training.”
The preliminary results also showed that Serrano had bruises on his right arm and stomach, most likely from being struck with a baton, Bianco said.
“There were no other indications of trauma and no signs of asphyxiation,” Bianco said. “One major finding is that Mr. Serrano’s lungs were twice the size as normal, indicating a drug overdose.”
Guizar blasted the deputies’ actions, comparing it to George Floyd, who died after a police officer pressed a knee on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. “Didn’t these guys learn their lesson from George Floyd and all the protests?” he said. “This is manslaughter. They heard him say, ‘I can’t breathe.'”
Guizar said he will file a claim to obtain the police radio calls and videos related to Serrano’s death. He added that the family plans to sue the sheriff’s department and Stater Bros.
Ernie Serrano GoFundMe page
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Serrano, which has raised $20,378 of the $25,000 goal.