On Friday, District Attorney, Summer Stephan, announced that no charges would be filed against the National City Police Department officers in the death of Earl McNeil. Geneviéve Jones-Wright, criminal justice reform advocate, Deputy Public Defender, and community leader, made the following statement regarding the decision:
On May 26, 2018, Earl McNeil went to the National City Police Department asking for help. Instead of receiving help, he ended up comatose, showing signs of trauma, only to die days later. Today the San Diego County District Attorney, Summer Stephan, has cleared law enforcement officers from any wrongdoing in Mr. McNeil’s death. This decision comes on the heels of months of community protests and calls for the District Attorney to recuse her office from the investigation.
Mr. McNeil was a paid informant for the District Attorney’s Office. We know this from court documents, investigative reporting, and testimony. We also know that Mr. McNeil told officials in the District Attorney’s office that he offered perjured and fantastic testimony in cases that led to the wrongful incarceration of several individuals who are currently incarcerated
Strangely, one of the DA officials who was put on notice was Mr. McNeil’s personal handler, who appeared at his bedside while comatose according to Mr. McNeil’s family. These facts and many others would have led any District Attorney with an interest in justice and transparency to recuse their office from the investigation. However, Ms. Stephan is more interested in being a rubber stamp for law enforcement than protecting the communities she is supposed to serve.
The Wrap” Device that was used to restrain Earl McNeil is not intended to be used with additional restraints or when someone is suspected of being under the influence of drugs. The officers knew this.
Video footage released by the NCPD and the District Attorney’s Office shows Mr. McNeil in clear mental distress upon arrival at the police station on May 26th. Despite this, mental health professionals nor PERT (Psychiatric Emergency Response Team) were called to assist. Earl McNeil needed help and received none. He should be alive today.
According to an ambulance report recently obtained by the media, Earl McNeil was placed into “The Wrap” device and had his shirt pulled over his head in addition to a spit mask over his mouth. “The Wrap” Device that was used to restrain Earl McNeil is not intended to be used with additional restraints or when someone is suspected of being under the influence of drugs. The officers knew this. Yet, they chose to disregard the safeguards. They decided not to follow the two most important rules. They purposefully and intentionally ignored protocol and training. Mr. McNeil did not receive the help he needed. He should be alive today.
In her statement today, District Attorney Stephan cited the drugs in Mr. McNeil’s system, but not the officers’ failure to follow the proper protocols when restraining someone in “The Wrap”.
At a minimum, the actions of NCPD were negligent. Ultimately, they were fatal. In Stephan’s press conference today she stated, “There is no evidence that officers intended to kill Mr. McNeil.” An “intent to kill” is not the only factor a District Attorney investigating such a case looks to. Where were the measures to save his life after they placed his life in danger? Failure to follow protocol, especially under such circumstances, is criminal negligence.
This is a grave miscarriage of justice.
It is unacceptable that community members demanding justice are treated more swiftly and harshly by the DA’s office than the law enforcement officers who caused a man’s death.
Mr. McNeil’s death was caused by reckless and criminal negligence on the part of NCPD officers. Those officers who disregarded every safety protocol in using “The Wrap” device and who ignored his screams of suffocation as he cried out, “I can’t breathe” should be charged. This is what true Justice demands.
We the People deserve better.
Earl McNeil deserved better. He should be alive today.”