OCDA releases custodial death report for Justin Bryan Perkins

Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Todd Spitzer released the investigation findings and legal conclusions of the Anaheim Police Department’s custodial death of Justin Bryan Perkins.

The full letter, “OCDA Report Custodial Death Investigation – Justin Bryan Perkins” is available at www.orangecountyda.org by selecting Officer-Involved Shootings and Custodial Death Letters under the Reports pull-down menu.

This article was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Below follow excerpts from the Custodial Death Report.

APD Officers Lee and Wang were dispatched in response to a possible assault. John Doe 1 provided the two officers with a statement about what had occurred and told officers that a male subject had punched him in the head unprovoked. The officers arrived at the apartment where Perkins was living with his uncle, and initially made contact with Perkins when he opened the front door to the apartment unit.

Officers attempted to initiate questioning with Perkins but were unable to elicit coherent details about the altercation he was referencing. Perkins continued to become more agitated throughout the approximately three-minute interaction in the doorway.

This culminated with Perkins attacking the two officers, causing them to respond by using their fists, Tasers, and batons, all to seemingly no avail until Perkins fell to the ground outside and was eventually subdued once Officer Wang was able to place him into a carotid restraint hold.

Officer Lee suffered the loss of a portion of his pinkie finger, which was severed by Perkins when he bit it off, and Officer Wang suffered a fractured hand. Both officers required surgery for their injuries. Based on a review of all the available evidence and the video from the [body worn camera], it is clear that the conduct of the officers in attempting to stop Perkins’ attack was completely reasonable under the circumstances.

What began as a misdemeanor assault investigation by the officers quickly turned into the officers fighting for their lives. When officers were finally able to gain control of Perkins and place him in handcuffs, they did everything they could to tend to him and his injuries.

Initially, Perkins was still alert, breathing, and had a pulse. He appeared to suffer from only cuts and abrasions that were incurred during the fight with Officers Lee and Wang. Regardless, paramedics had been called and were en route. Once Officers Edgar and Reynoso arrived on scene and took custody of Perkins from Officers Lee and Wang, they assisted him to his feet and began attempting to walk him to the parking lot in order to meet the paramedics.

Instead, while they were walking, Perkins began using his hands to try to grab at the officers. As a result, they placed him on the ground again and waited for the paramedics. During this entire time, Perkins remained breathing.

While on the ground the second time, he began kicking his feet around, preventing officers from controlling them. As a result, officers applied a hobble restraint to his legs to keep him from kicking them or breaking free from their grasp. Perkins remained alert and breathing for approximately 16 minutes after being initially handcuffed at the conclusion of the fight, and once even responded “yeah” in response to Officer Edgar’s question as to whether Perkins could stand up.

Once Perkins’ breathing ceased, CPR was immediately administered. Concurrently, when officers could no longer find a pulse, they immediately retrieved the necessary defibrillator (the AED). After attaching the AED pads to the appropriate locations on Perkins’ chest, the AED analyzed Perkins’ heart rhythm, and directed the officers that no shock was advised.

On one occasion, approximately two minutes after Perkins’ breathing initially ceased, Officer Edgar noted that Perkins was breathing once again. However, the officers noted that his breathing was “coming and going,” and therefore continued with CPR.

Less than six minutes after Perkins’ initial loss of breathing, paramedics arrived and took over medical care of Perkins. Perkins was transported to the hospital, where he was eventually declared to be in “critical condition.”

Perkins remained at the hospital and his health status continued to decline before he was declared deceased on October 31, 2018. The coroner determined that Perkins’ death was a result of acute polydrug intoxication due to the combined effects of Methorphan and Bupropion and ruled the manner of death accidental.