Man Dead In Encounter With Sheriff’s Deputies In RC

A Rancho Cucamonga man who was slammed to the pavement in a confrontation with San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies died after the encounter.
The sheriff’s department provides contract law enforcement services to Rancho Cucamonga, functioning as that city’s police department.
On Tuesday morning, March 19, 22 minutes after midnight, deputies were summoned by a nearby resident to the 10100 block of Foothill Boulevard, just east of the Foothill/Hermosa Avenue intersection. The resident reported that an individual was acting erratically, seeking to open apartment and vehicle doors, and that he had pulled the building’s fire alarm.
Deputies responded within minutes, where they came upon a man latter identified as Mohd Hijaz, 32.
Subsequent to the events in question, the department put out a release. It states: “When deputies arrived, Hijaz was located outside seated in a bush, while he yelled incoherently. Deputies immediately requested paramedics to respond and attempted to offer Hijaz assistance from a distance. Without warning, Hijaz advanced toward deputies, who attempted to back away from him. The deputies gave Hijaz multiple commands to stop, but he refused. The deputies attempted to detain Hijaz and a use of force occurred. Hijaz struck one deputy in the face as he advanced toward them. Hijaz was eventually detained and monitored by deputies until personnel from Rancho Cucamonga Fire and American Medical Response arrived at the location. Hijaz suffered a medical emergency on scene and was transported to a local hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.”
Officially, the sheriff’s department has not released any further information about the altercation, and it steadfastly refused to elaborate on the medical emergency Hijaz experienced.
Reportedly, Hijaz was severely injured when he was lifted and brought with force to the ground by a deputy in response to Hijaz’s combativeness. The department did acknowledge that Hijaz was, in the course of events, subdued, but declined to disclose the nature of the force used. Nor did the department respond to inquires as to whether Hijaz striking the deputy had provoked an overwhelming use of force against him in retribution. The department did not clarify whether Hijaz had lost consciousness after his head was slammed into the pavement.
In a written report about the incident filed by one of the deputies on the scened, Hijaz was described as having charged toward a deputy.
An authopsy is to be performed on Hijaz to establish the cause of death. That autopsy is to involve a full battery of toxicology tests to ascertain if his death was precipitated by drugs. In San Bernardino County, the coroner’s office is an arm of the sheriff’s department. There was concern that the autopsy to be performed on Hijaz will not extend to determining whether his skull was cracked by the head slam.
The department has assigned Detective Malcolm Page and Sergeant Gerardo Moreno of the sheriff’s specialized investigations division to investigate the matter. The department put out a request that any eyewitnesses to what occurred come forward.
“Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Detective Malcolm Page,” the department’s public release stated.
Under standard protocol, Moreno and Page would normally work toward establishing whether one or more of the deputies used an illegal restraint that limited the suspect’s breathing, if the deputies had placed the suspect in a prone position for an extended period, which limited his breathing, utilized a beanbag round or taser to subdue the suspect, whether the deputies on the scene failed to recognize, or otherwise failed to render assistance, if the suspect was in the midst of an overdose.
In this way, Moreno and Page are obliged to locate and interview any eyewitnesss, collect and closely examine bodyworn video camera footage from all officers at the location of the confrontation with the suspect. Moreover, they should also make a point of obtaining any surveillance footage of the incident. All available medical records related to the deceased should be collected, including the report generated by the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Ten days before Hijaz’s death, on March 9, sheriff’s deputies had a deadly encounter with a 15-year-old in Apple Valley. On March 13, the sheriff’s department released the bodyworn video camera footage of the two deputies involved in that case. If a similar release of the available video footage is not made by the department in the matter involving Hijaz, the department will run the risk of triggering the perception that it is withholding from the public information to indicated excessive force was used.
As of press time, the department had given no indication the footage would be made available to the public.

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