Crime & Justice

Coroner: LAPD officers contributed to Omar Abrego’s death

An autopsy says LAPD officers played a role in the death of an unarmed man, even though he was suffering from
An autopsy says LAPD officers played a role in the death of an unarmed man, even though he was suffering from "cocaine toxicity."

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The Los Angeles County Coroner has concluded two LAPD sergeants contributed to the death of an unarmed man arrested August 2nd in South LA.

Omar Abrego died from “acute cocaine intoxication” but also experienced “physical and emotional duress” during his confrontation with police, according to the coroner.

Abrego, 37, had “multiple facial contusions” and a “severe concussion” after the encounter, according to the autopsy. “There is a temporal relationship between the arrest maneuver and death which complicated the acute cocaine intoxication, therefore the manner of death is deemed homicide,” the coroner concluded in a report released late Tuesday.

Abrego’s death occurred a week before the fatal shooting of Ezell Ford by LAPD officers from the same division. Within days, police in Fergeson, Missouri, shot and killed Michael Brown, prompting protestors in LA to draw comparisons between the incidents.

Shortly after Abrego’s death, the LAPD said two Newton Division sergeants stopped the father of three after he was driving erratically and “at a high rate of speed” in South LA. According to the department, Abrego tried to run away, then fought with the sergeants in the 6900 block of South Main. One sergeant suffered a fractured hand.

“The decedent’s bizarre behavior and agitation is a result of cocaine intoxication,” the coroner said.

The LAPD had placed a security hold on the autopsy, saying they wanted to prevent potential witnesses from being tainted by its contents. The department's Force Investigation Division, Office of the Inspector General and the County District Attorney’s Office continue to investigate the incident.

The Abrego family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging the LAPD sergeants used excessive force.

Chief Charlie Beck installed a new captain at the LAPD's Newton Division after those two incidents.