San Gabriel Valley News: Cause of death unknown for man who died in El Monte police custody
EL MONTE - The cause of death of a schizophrenic man who died while being taken into police custody last week remained unknown Sunday, officials said.
Authorities officials confirmed name of the dead man as Khoa Ahn Le of El Monte, but an autopsy had not yet been performed, Los Angeles County coroner's Lt. Cheryl MacWillie said. He was listed at the coroner's office as a 36-year-old man, but an attorney representing Le's family said he was 37.
Le died early Friday after a physical altercation with two El Monte police officers just before 11 p.m. Thursday at his family's home in the 2700 block of Caminar Avenue, according to sheriff's officials, who are joining police in the investigation.
Sheriff's officials Sunday had only described what happened to Le as "medical complications."
But his family, and attorney Hoang Huy Tu, who is representing them, said they believe Le died as a result of excessive force and police brutality.
A family member called police because Le had an argument with his father that escalated to pushing. Two El Monte officers arrived to find him sitting calmly on his bed in a small bedroom inside the home's attached garage, Tu said.
As they detained Le, according to Tu and family members who watched, Le was struck about 20 times with a flashlight, repeatedly kicked, placed into a choke hold and shocked four times with a Taser.
He was pronounced dead at a hospital just over an hour later, coroner's officials said.
An autopsy could be carried out as early as today, MacWillie said.
If further tests such as toxicology are ordered, however, a cause of death may not be determined for more than six weeks.
Other than his mental illness, Le was believed to be physically healthy, Tu said.
The involved officers, who were not identified Sunday, were placed on "administrative re-assignment, as is standard in these situations," El Monte police said in a written statement.
The statement expressed condolences to Le's family but deferred all comments on the situation to sheriff's investigators, who could not be reached for comment