MARTINEZ – Five law enforcement officers acted lawfully in the 2019 in-custody death of a 50-year-old man at a Concord homeless shelter, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.
In a report released Monday, prosecutors said no charges will be filed against four Concord Police Department officers and one Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office deputy.
The Concord police officers were identified as Sam Staten, David Savage, David Greenfield and Raul Alvarado, and the sheriff’s deputy was identified as Casey Shields.
At about 4:10 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2019, authorities were called to the Contra Costa County Adult Homeless Shelter at 2047 Arnold Industrial Way for a report of a man, identified as Martinez resident Steven Hankins, acting in a violent and unpredictable manner with employees and residents of the shelter, according to the report.
Prosecutors said Savage and Alvarado found Hankins inside a restroom “pacing and talking unintelligently.” They tried to talk with him, but he did not respond and tried to push past them. A struggle ensued, with Savage, Alvarado, Staten and Shields grabbing Hankins by the arms and legs and placing him face down on the ground.
Hankins was double handcuffed and placed in a restraint device known as a WRAP. According to the report, Greenfield, who arrived as Hankins was being taken down, continued to talk with Hankins and felt for a pulse on his neck; he also positioned himself near Hankins’ head and placed his “elevated knee” over Hankins’ upper back.
Within a minute and 31 seconds of being taken down and handcuffed, Hankins was turned over and found to be unresponsive, prosecutors said. Greenfield started chest compressions while the other officers removed the handcuffs and the restraint device. The officers then used an automated external defibrillator, or AED, on Hankins.
Personnel from American Medical Response and the Contra Costa County Fire Department arrived and took over lifesaving efforts, but Hankins did not recover and was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the report, an autopsy found “no evidence of neck compression or breathing restraint.” Hankins, however, had 10 times greater than a lethal dose of methamphetamine in his system and a doctor concluded that Hankins’ cause of death was “probable cardiac dysrhythmia … due to acute methamphetamine toxicity.”
“A thorough review of the investigation establishes that that Officer Savage, Officer Alvarado, Lt. Staten, and Deputy Shields used reasonable force against Hankins in an effort to gain compliance while he physical resisted and struggled against the officers. … Officer Greenfield’s contact with Hankins was limited to the context of rendering aid.” prosecutors said.
“Accordingly, in applying the applicable law and the California District Attorney’s Uniform Crime Charging Standards to the present case, there is no evidence to support a criminal prosecution. As such, no further action will be taken in this case.”