The attorney representing the family of the 30-year-old Columbus man who died after a struggle with Columbus police officers gave an account of the incident Friday morning in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer.
Attorney Stacey Jackson said the family is considering filing a lawsuit against the city about early Monday’s Moss Drive arrest, which remains under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. They are waiting to receive Hector Arreola’s medical records, autopsy results, and more before making a decision on the lawsuit.
“We want, obviously, to find the cause (of death). From my understanding, the family was told he was suffering from cerebral edema, which is the lack of blood or oxygen to the brain,” Jackson said. “Obviously the family does feel that the two officers who responded to the scene are directly responsible for Hector’s death, because they do feel that his death is a direct result of his encounter with Officer Mike Aguilar and Officer Brian Dudley.”
Dudley and Aguilar, who were placed on administrative duty amid the GBI investigation, responded to a disorderly call in the 700 block of Moss Drive around 5 a.m. Monday.
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Alan Tarvin said he saw Arreola run to a neighbor’s house, bang on the door and claim that someone was trying to kill him.
Officers arrived on the scene and told Arreola to put his hands where they could see them and walked toward them, Tarvin said. The officers approached Arreola after he failed to comply, according to his account of the incident.
Tarvin said the officers weren’t aggressive, but Arreola “fought like a bull” as they tried to place him into custody. One witness reported that one of the officers had his knee on the back of Arreola’s neck, Jackson said.
The attorney said Arreola told the officers he couldn’t breathe several times as they were taking him into custody.
Arreola was taken to Columbus Midtown Medical Center, where he suffered from contusions and bruising to his upper torso and arm. He also wore a neck brace while breathing with help from a ventilator before he died 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jackson said.
Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren wants the GBI to explore the possibility that Arreola may have had a previous health condition that caused his injuries, but Jackson said Arreola was healthy before the police encounter.