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Stanislaus County DA finds deputy use of force in two separate deaths justified

The use of force in once instance was said to be minimal and the other was said to be reasonable.

STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. — The use of force by Stanislaus County Sheriff's deputies in two separate deaths were justified, according to the Stanislaus County District Attorney's office

Alejandro Sanchez, 38, died on May 5, 2018, after a fight with Stanislaus County Sheriff's deputies, and Rudy Santillan, 36, died while in the department's custody on July 16, 2019. 

In 2018, Sanchez approached deputies Bret Babbitt and Shane Rohn at a truck stop and told them someone stole his truck frame, the District Attorney's office said. Officials say during the investigation, deputies learned Sanchez hadn't registered his truck in over a year. While deputies tried to cite him, Sanchez called someone saying, "help me, they are trying to kill me.".

A fight between Babbit and Sanchez broke out after deputies tried to calm him down and take the phone from him. They both ended up falling to the ground 

Officials say it's unclear if Sanchez grabbed Babbit because he was falling or if he was trying to attack the deputy. Still, they say, the use of force was minimal and justified. Sanchez died from a "subarachnoid hemorrhage," which the coroner's report said was consistent with a fall.

In Santillan's case, his stepfather called 911 to report that his son was "acting crazy" and breaking things, according to the District Attorney's office. Santillan had left the house by the time deputies arrived, but his stepfather told deputies the direction he was heading.

Upon making contact with him, deputies used a taser on Santillan after he tried to run. Officials say Santillan refused to listen to deputies even after being held to the ground. Officials say deputies tried using a taser on Santillan again before using a police canine. The canine put a stop to the fight, but officials said Santillan still refused to let deputies handcuff him. 

After deputies handcuffed Santillan, they noticed he was no longer responsive. Santillan was rushed to the hospital, where he died several hours later. The cause of death was “complications of acute methamphetamine toxicity,” officials said.

The District Attorney's office said the deputies had lawfully and acted reasonably.

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