Families allege excessive force in deaths of 2 men Tasered by police

Two families have accused the Long Beach Police Department of using excessive force against a pair of men who died after being Tasered by officers.

In separate incidents about two months apart last year, 50-year-old Stephen R. Cherry and 25-year-old Alan Ramos were both forcibly subdued by officers. They both died a short time later.

On Sept. 17, Cherry struggled with officers who came to his home after neighbors called about him acting bizarrely, breaking out windows and cutting himself on the shattered glass, according to authorities.

And on Nov. 11, officers Tasered Ramos at the Long Beach Jail while they were breaking up an altercation between inmates, police said.

Coroners investigators have ruled Cherry’s death was an accident, citing Cherry’s severe artery disease and drugs in his system, according to an autopsy report that makes no mention of the Taser contributing to his death. In Ramos’ case, officials have not released any details of his autopsy or cause of death.

Now, relatives of both men have filed legal claims with the city alleging the deaths happened at least in part because of missteps leading up to the altercations or neglect by police officials afterward.

Claims are often precursors to lawsuits. In this case they include few new details about the incidents.

An attorney for Ramos’ family said they’re still trying to get answers about exactly what happened.

A day after his death, police said they used the Taser because Ramos wouldn’t stop biting and attacking another inmate in a communal cell.

“Detention officers were able to gain control of him, however shortly thereafter, the subject became unresponsive,” police said at the time, adding that Ramos died after medics took him to the hospital.

The family’s attorneys have filed public records requests trying to find out more, but so far, Ramos’ mother and 8-year-old son haven’t gotten any info, they said.

“They’re just left in the dark,” attorney Michael Carrillo said.

The claim filed by Cherry’s two children alleges they’re owed at least $10 million in his death. The claim from Ramos’ family doesn’t name a specific dollar figure.

The Long Beach City Attorney’s office and Police Department both declined to comment, and attorneys representing Cherry’s family could not be reached.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children, Paul and Simon.