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OCDA Clears Anaheim Cops in Man’s Accidental Death During Arrest

OC DA Todd Spitzer says no harm, no foul

The death of Ian Elliot Tompko during an attempted arrest by Anaheim policemen a year ago left many questions unanswered. A press release by the police department at the time mentioned a 46-year-old acting erratically and falling into medical distress less than a minute after his encounter with officers. In the weeks that followed, Tompko’s name couldn’t be disclosed to media as his next of kin hadn’t been found in order to be notified first of his passing.

But one question that’s been recently answered by the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) office is that the arresting officers didn’t act negligently in any criminal manner during the incident.

According to the OCDA’s investigation, Tompko walked into traffic lanes in Anaheim on the afternoon of June 23, 2018. Surveillance footage from Lincoln West Car Wash along Lincoln Avenue shows him doing just that. A few minutes later, Tompko walked into First Stop Liquor where he fell to the floor upon entering. He stayed there while customers looked back at him.

Tompko sat outside the liquor store by the time Anaheim police officers Jason Carney and Kenneth Gulley arrived, responding to calls of his erratic and bizarre behavior. Carney observed that he appeared to be foaming at the mouth and sweating profusely. Both officers were concerned that Tompko may try to walk in and out of traffic lanes again.

Gulley ordered Tompko to stop and sit on the ground; he promptly complied before rolling around on the ground much like he did inside the liquor store. The officers moved in to handcuff Tompko and rolled him back on his stomach. Tompko resisted and feared he would die as he grunted on the ground. Gulley pulled his legs into a “figure 4 lock” position and tried to hobble tie them. Additional police arrived on the scene when they noticed Tompko appeared non-responsive.

He registered a very faint pulse and officers began life-saving measures. When paramedics arrived Tompko’s pulse gave out and he was no longer breathing. They transported him to Anaheim Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased at 6:23 p.m.

An autopsy that followed didn’t note any signs of significant trauma, only superficial abrasions. His death was determined to be accidental from having overdosed on meth with an enlarged heart.

With that, OCDA investigators evaluated whether or not Anaheim officers failed to respond properly to Tompko’s medical distress. “When Tompko became unresponsive, the officers promptly checked for a pulse and respiration and upon finding none, immediately began life-saving measures including administering Narcan,” the report concludes. “The evidence clearly show that the APD officers acted reasonably, treated Tompko with compassion and respect, and handled his medical emergency reasonably and with efficiency.”

Carney appeared in one other OCDA investigation when cleared by investigators in the officer-involved shooting death of Danny Rendon in 2016 [1].

No services were held for Tompko.

As always, read the report in its entirety [2] online.