Hector Arreola was being taken into custody early Monday in what police described as a disorderly conduct incident on Moss Drive when he got involved in a struggle with officers Mike Aguilar and Brian Dudley. He suffered from head injuries and was transported to Columbus Midtown Medical Center for treatment.
Arreola was pronounced dead at the hospital the following day at 3 p.m., confirmed Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan.
Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren asked that the incident be investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He wants the state agency to determine if Arreola’s injuries were from the arrest or a pre-existing medical condition.
“No one should ever die from being arrested for a misdemeanor,” said Rodrigo Arreola, who said his son was healthy before the incident. “No one should ever be treated with such brutality.”
In an emailed statement to the Ledger-Enquirer, Rodrigo Arreola gave a detailed description of the family’s account of the incident. He said Hector Arreola’s mother, Connie Arreola, witnessed it as it played out for 10 to 15 minutes.
Rodrigo Arreola said his son called 911 late Sunday and early Monday asking for help.
“He was scared for his life and for the safety of his mother,” Rodrigo Arreola said. “Whether his fears were real or unreal is irrelevant. He was scared and crying out for help. Hector was not a danger to himself or others.”
Rodrigo Arreola said an officer appeared to reach for a stun gun, and his son begged him not to discharge it.
“The officers slammed him to the ground and thrust his face and head into the ground,” the father said. “One officer was seen kneeling on the back of Hector’s neck.”
Rodrigo Arreola said his son told police he couldn’t breathe, and Connie Arreola asked that police stop. According to the family’s statement, the officers laughed and responded, “He’s okay. He can breathe.”
Rodrigo Arreola said his son was unconscious when the officers cuffed him. The officers allegedly told him to get up, but the man was unresponsive, according to the family’s statement.
An ambulance was called to the scene and the 30-year-old man was transported to Midtown Medical Center.
“Hector started having convulsions and cardiac arrested in the ambulance before he arrived at the Medical Center,” Arreola said. “He never regained consciousness.”
About two hours after the man’s death, Columbus Police Lt. Herman Miles released a statement announcing that Dudley and Aguilar were placed on administrative duty as the GBI continues to investigate.
“Those officers should never be allowed to roam the streets again,” Rodrigo Arreola said. “They are a danger to our community, not my son who was just calling for help.”