Relatives of a 35-year-old man who was hospitalized after a struggle with Anaheim police and died about a week later demanded answers Monday about his death, suggesting police used excessive force when they arrested him.
Anaheim police are conducting a use-of-force investigation. Police admitted using physical force to restrain Christopher Eisinger, but acting Police Chief Julian Harvey said the man was not beaten, choked, struck or Tasered.
Eisinger was taken off life support at 10:43 a.m. Saturday, after it was determined he was brain dead because of this incident, according to the family's lawyers, Anne Della Donna and Eric Dubin.
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Speaking to reporters at a Santa Ana news conference, the attorneys and Eisinger's mother demanded answers.
"Why can't they tell us for how long he wasn't breathing? Why is this such a mystery?'' Eisinger's mother, Katrina, said.
"He had a lot of high school friends that goes back to grade school,'' she said. "We miss him. We miss that smile. We miss that Chris.''
Della Donna said Eisinger was held face down during the struggle with police, with "severe force applied against the side of his face'' that compromised his airway. She said Eisinger suffered a pair of facial fractures and his right eye was "forced out of its socket.''
Dubin added, "The question is, why didn't they recognize he wasn't breathing during the incident ... and why didn't they do CPR immediately afterward?''
Eisinger was arrested the night of March 2 for allegedly trying to break into a home and several vehicles. Officers who responded to the 1300 block of South East Gates Street Friday night spotted the suspect in a backyard and chased him to the 3000 block of West Ball Road, police said.
According to police, Eisinger violently resisted by kicking and ripping his arms away. Officers used "control holds and physical force'' to restrain him.
"The officers used control holds, they used physical force during this contact to overcome his resistance and take him into custody for the suspected crimes,'' Harvey said last week. "The preliminary review shows the officers did not employ a carotid restraint, did not employ impact weapons, did not employ a Taser or deliver any strikes to the suspect.''
Harvey defended his officers at a news conference Thursday, saying they followed proper procedures and showed "great restraint in their application of force.''
However, once Eisinger was handcuffed, he stopped breathing and went into full cardiac arrest, police said. Paramedics were called and Eisinger was revived and taken to a hospital. According to police, Eisinger on Monday was being treated for facial injuries and brain swelling.
Police did not release the names of the officers involved in his arrest.
Police said Eisinger appeared to be under the influence of narcotics when he was arrested.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office is investigating the arrest. The police department is also conducting a "major incident review.''
Eisinger has a criminal history of drug use and resisting arrest, according to court records.
In his most recent case, Eisinger pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia Oct. 5 and was sentenced to 10 days in jail. He pleaded guilty to the same charge Dec. 30, 2016, and was sentenced then to 150 days in jail.
Eisinger pleaded guilty to vandalism, resisting arrest, assault on a peace officer, battery on a peace officer and resisting police, all misdemeanors, on Dec. 8, 2016, and was sentenced to 150 days in jail.
On Aug. 17, 2016, Eisinger pleaded guilty to possession of drugs in jail and was sentenced to a total of nearly a year in jail as he kept having his probation revoked and reinstated, according to court records.
On June 17, 2016, he pleaded guilty to resisting police, battery on a peace officer and being under the influence of drugs, all misdemeanors, and was sentenced to 45 days in jail, but was allowed to do 22 days of community service in lieu of jail, according to court records. He was also put into an anger management program, according to court records.
Eisinger was convicted in 2005 on marijuana sales charges, but he had the convictions dismissed in 2012 after utilizing a state law allowing for it after clearing probation, according to court records.