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'This Was No Accident': Family Sues Stockton Police Department Following Man's Fatal Arrest

STOCKTON (CBS13) - A family filing a lawsuit against the Stockton Police Department wants two officers criminally prosecuted after their loved one died in police custody.

"I can't begin to tell you the absolute devastating loss that I, as a mother, feel every single day," said Karen Sutherland.

Karen wants justice and accountability.  She says her son, 29-year-old Shayne Sutherland, was complying with officers as he referred to them as "sir" and begged for them to get off him so he could breathe.

On officer body cam video you hear Sutherland respond to an officer saying, "Yes sir, I got it. I understand and I won't move. I won't move at all."  But moments later, you another officer presses a baton against Sutherland's back as he screams.

"This was no accident, this was a homicide," said the family's attorney, V. James DeSimone.

The longtime civil rights attorney says Sutherland was handcuffed face down while one officer held him down with his body and another used a baton to press against his shoulders.

"Did you tackle him? Did you tase him? Did you shoot him? How did he just collapse to the ground? 'I don't know M'am he just collapsed to the ground and stopped breathing.'  That was the first start of their deceptions to my family," Karen said, referring to a conversation she says she had with police about her son's death.

Officials announced a multi-agency investigation just days after the incident in October 2020, which they said showed no inflicted trauma or injuries lead to Sutherland's death.  Meantime, a separate autopsy ordered by Sutherland's family, showed he died from restraint asphyxiation.

"He noted contusions to Shayne's jaw, his lips, his nose his face. His back, his thighs," said DeSimone.  "As you saw with George Floyd, Shayne Sutherland was not resisting. Shayne Sutherland was moving his head in an attempt to gasp for breath."

"We spent Christmas at the cemetery last year and opened gifts out there. Everyone has suffered a huge loss. There's not words to even describe it," said Karen.

Sutherland was a father and a youth football coach.
CBS13 eached out to the City of Stockton and the Police Department for reaction to the lawsuit, but they don't comment on pending litigation.



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