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‘I need my father’: Family of man on life support following arrest, calls for justice, accountability

A father, son and grandfather is fighting for his life after becoming unconscious while being arrested Tuesday morning. His family says it didn't have to happen.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — 48-year-old Sherrano Stingley is fighting for his life in a South Sacramento hospital bed after a Tuesday morning arrest rendered him unconscious.

His family says he shouldn’t be in this position.

Around 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call in the 7500 block of Whisperwillow Drive. A news release from the Sheriff’s Office – which includes a link to body camera video – says the resident had called to report someone under their work vehicle and feared the person was stealing their catalytic converter.

Stingley’s family members say that’s not what he was doing – that, instead, he was having a mental health crisis and trying to find his way to his daughter’s house, which was on the same block. He has sought refuge in her car in the past.

"My car is always open. He goes in my car, he sits in my car,” said daughter Dymin Stingley. “So he ended up getting in a car and they're trying to put a picture up that he's trying to steal or whatever the case may be. No… He was just trying to get to me. He was not trying to hurt anybody.”

She shared video with ABC10 from another neighbor’s security camera, showing Stingley running into their yard, appearing to be talking to himself, then getting into an unlocked car in the driveway, seeming frantic and confused and staying there for less than a minute before running off to the next yard, leaving the car door open.

“I guess he just realized that this isn't where he was supposed to be and just got out the car,” said Dymin Stingley. “That neighbor did not call the cops because they knew he's not like that – he's not a bad person."

It was another neighbor who called law enforcement to their own home. 

When deputies arrived, they encountered Stingley as he was exiting the enclosed gated front patio of the caller’s home. Deputies ordered him to the ground, and he complied. At that point, the Sheriff’s Office says, “as the deputy approached him to place him in handcuffs, the subject wrapped himself around the deputy’s legs and attempted to bring him to the ground.”

Deputies were not responding to a mental health call, but family and advocates say – deputies could have deescalated the situation.

"When he came out and said, 'Okay, okay,' and he got on his knees, that was an opportunity for them to sit him down and talk to him and ask him 'Hey, what are you doing out here?' and get information from him,” said Tanya Faison, founder of Black Lives Matter Sacramento. "And then peacefully tell him what they’re going to do, try to evaluate his state of mind and call the right people if they need to and then peacefully take him away with dignity instead of attacking him."

Deputies spent about three minutes trying to get Stingley in handcuffs, pinning him to the ground to get his hands behind his back. By about the fourth minute of the encounter, Stingley appeared in the body camera video to be unconscious.

Family members say deputies went too far. Dymin Stingley points to a moment in the body camera video when one of the deputies appears to hit her dad in the head.

Stingley appeared unconscious around 5:45 a.m. His daughter shared a video she took on the scene, timestamped 6:03 a.m., showing paramedics working on her dad. She worries they came too late.

Now, as of Friday night, Stingley is on life support at Kaiser Permanente in South Sacramento, and his family worries he'll never wake up.

His mother, Annette Hilburn, drove in from the Bay Area to see her son in the hospital.

"That's my first-born, and he shouldn't be up there like this,” she said.

"I need my father. He was just here and now he's in that room… I want to see my father again with his eyes open," said Dymin Stingley, through tears. "I don't want to see him like that anymore. I can't take it."

Dymin Stingley says she doesn't believe that deputies were justified in their response.

“He's innocent. He did not do anything,” she said, adding hypothetically, “I don't care if he broke a window, it does not justify him not breathing.”

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office offered no additional comments beyond what the office released Thursday evening.

The press release alleges Stingley was found with "cocaine, meth, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and prescription methamphetamine in his system" and had "experienced a serious medical emergency while exerting himself during the fight."

Stingley was arrested on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of Attempted Burglary, Resisting Executive Officers, Prowling on Property of Another and Battery of a Peace Officer. Additionally, Stingley is noted by officials as a "Prolific Offender" and has been placed on probation until 2024 for civilian battery and vandalism. 

Physicians determined the suspect’s prognosis was grim, according to officials.

His family feels the deputies used excessive force. 

“Their knees, their brutal force and everything else made him stop breathing. He could not breathe. This is part two of George Floyd and I didn’t know I would ever be a victim of it. It hurts. He was just at my house,” said Dymin Stingley.

Watch more from ABC10: Man left unconscious, in 'grim condition' after arrest

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