Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP) Lieutenant Rob Plastino and Santa Barbara Sheriff Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover responded to witnesses’ accounts of the events leading up to the death of second-year pre-biology major Andres “Andy” Esteban Sanchez, denying allegations of deputy misconduct.
Areli Ariana, Ashley Baker, Jocelin Hernandez, Alejandra Melgoza and Marvin Ramirez gave witness testimonials during public forum at the Associated Students (A.S.) Senate meeting on Wednesday, alleging emergency personnel mishandled the events leading up to Sanchez’s death.
Hoover released the following statement regarding the events of Sunday morning:
“On 10/11/2015 at approximately 4:40 a.m., SBSO Dispatch received a call for medical emergency in the 6700 block of Abrego Road for a report of a male subject bleeding from the arm and running around in the street screaming for help. SBSO Deputies, Fire, and AMR responded to assist.
The victim, Andres Sanchez, suffered from a large laceration around his right arm, near the elbow. The injury was later determined to have been caused by the victim punching his arm through a plate glass window. Sanchez was combative and displayed symptomology of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Sanchez was restrained on a backboard and transported to Cottage Hospital Emergency Room by ambulance. Based on witness statements at the scene, Sanchez had struck the apartment window with his right arm and began running around, yelling and acting strangely. He was bleeding profusely. Several of the witnesses attempted to restrain Sanchez and provide first aid. Sanchez’s roommate believed Sanchez may have ingested some type of synthetic drug, possibly LSD or K2.
While at Cottage Hospital, Sanchez became unresponsive. Advanced life-saving efforts were attempted, but were unsuccessful. Sanchez was pronounced dead at approximately 6:51 a.m. Next of kin was notified by Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Emergency Room staff. The Sheriff’s Coroner’s Unit is conducting a death investigation to determine cause and manner of death.”
Plastino said fire and medics were dispatched “within seconds” of Melgoza’s 911 call, and deputies arrived within three and a half minutes.
“I was able to pull up the dispatch log and I can see exactly when the call came in and when it was given to fire and medics,” Plastino said.
Plastino said witnesses’ claims that a translation service was not available following the incident is “totally false,” and deputies do not notify families of tragedies by phone.
“Foot Patrol has many translators. We have staff and we have deputies that speak Spanish,” Plastino said. “We would never call someone on the phone … we call down to the agency that’s in charge of that area.”
Plastino said he wants to provide “100 percent transparency” regarding the events preceding Sanchez’s death.
“I am so absolutely positive that we did everything absolutely right,” Plastino said. “I want everything to go to the press because I feel so confident in how we handled this.”
Plastino said deputies’ demeanor on scene is often misconstrued as harsh.
“At the moment of the crisis we are the ones that have to do the job, and in order to do that, you have to put up your brick wall … your mental armor to deal with the situation at hand,” Plastino said. “That can come across to some people as being uncaring, unfeeling, unemotional, unsympathetic at the moment.”
Plastino said although he does not agree with Ariana, Baker, Hernandez, Melgoza and Ramirez, he thinks they are asking “good questions.”
“Absolutely 100 percent glad that they are asking these questions, that they are questioning the way things are being done, because things aren’t always being done the way they should be,” Plastino said. “In this incident, I disagree with their perception of things.”
Plastino said witnesses alluded to false events, causing Sanchez’s family “unwarranted grief.”
“I could care less all day long if they want to question law enforcement,” Plastino said, “but when it affects the family and their grieving process for their son who’s died, then it’s an exception, because it causes them more grief.”
According to Plastino, deputies are trained in basic first aid, but are not equipped to handle severe injuries.
“The first aid kit that we carry is enough to help somebody with a stubbed toe, like a small cut,” Plastino said. “We’re trained in basic first aid, which is something anybody can go get … but it’s not advanced life support … we can apply pressure, we can do CPR.”
Plastino said it is “frustrating” for deputies to be first to arrive at the scene of a medical emergency because they do not have the means to provide the care needed.
“We want to assist, but we’re powerless because we don’t have the skills, the equipment or everything else that needs to be done during a major incident like that,” Plastino said.
Plastino said he agrees with the witnesses that all police vehicles should contain an emergency kit.
“Here is where we need to do a better job — there was a criticism that we did not carry a first aid kit,” Platino said. “That’s gonna be addressed … Every single one of [our] cars needs to have a first aid kit.”
According to Plastino, one of the two IVFP deputies who responded had a flashlight when approaching Sanchez, but the allegation that a deputy carried a baton is “absolutely untrue.”
“One of them got out with a flashlight, and the flashlights are not very big, so I don’t know how that could have been construed as a baton. The batons are long,” Plastino said. “That flashlight was never used in any way to restrain the young man, it was never used against anybody that was a bystander. It wasn’t used at all.”
Plastino said he is “very impressed” with the witnesses’ response when Sanchez approached them.
“There was a woman who was assisting, trying to keep him down, because he was trying to get up,” Plastino said. “Hats off to those who assisted him because with blood loss, the more worked up you are, the more blood you can lose. They were absolutely doing the best job they could as bystanders.”
Plastino said the deputies’ behavior alleged in the witnesses’ accounts can “not be tolerated,” and he asks for evidence that such misconduct occurred.
“Whoever is propagating that kind of nonsense, I would ask them to come forward and provide proof of it,” Plastino said. “If there is proof of it, we need to have a full-blown investigation.”
According to Plastino, officers will meet with the Sanchez family today to ensure the two deputies did everything in their power when addressing the situation.
“The sheriff is meeting actually with the family today and going to show them everything so that they can rest assured that we handled their son properly,” Plastino said, “that he was not mistreated in any way, that no part of this was mistreatment of their son.”
[Correction: This article previously stated San Diego deputies notified the Sanchez family of Andres Sanchez’s death; however, it was Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital that did so. This article has been updated accordingly.]
For the original allegations: “Witnesses Allege Misconduct Concerning Recent Student Death.”
For the SBC Fire response: http://dailynexus.com/2015-10-16/sbc-fire-responds-to-allegations-of-misconduct-in-sanchezs-death/
For IVFP’s original correspondence with the Nexus, see