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City of Antioch Settles Wrongful Death Suit for $475K

— March 30, 2020

The city of Antioch is settling a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Rakeem Rucks for $475,000.

Earlier this month, the city of Antioch agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit for $475,000. The suit itself was filed by the family of Rakeem Rucks, 34, who died when “several Antioch officers were attempting to arrest him.”

Do not cross police barricade tape close-up photography; image by David von Diemar, via
Do not cross police barricade tape close-up photography; image by David von Diemar, via

According to the lawsuit, the fatal incident happened in June 2015 when officers found Rucks “screaming and yelling.” According to an officer’s testimony, the “detained him almost immediately…a few minutes later, officers determined they should take him to the ground, and performed a leg sweep.” Once on the ground, Rucks was kept face down for several minutes because he was allegedly “acting aggressively and trying to push himself upwards.” In fact, the city argued that “Rucks was behaving erratically and turned out to be under the influence of methamphetamine, and that his death was caused by excited delirium.”

How did police find Rucks in the first place, though? How did their interaction begin? Well, according to court documents, Rucks “called police, claiming that people were following him and trying to shoot him in the area around Delta Pines Apartments on Sycamore Drive.” Before the officers found Rucks, they “talked to an area resident who said he’d seen a guy named Rakeem kicking an apartment door in.” From there, they were able to find him.

Rucks’ family filed the federal suit a year after his death because they claimed the officers involved had no valid reason to arrest him. They also argued that forcing his face into the dirt contributed to his death. A coroner’s report later found that Rucks “died from a heart attack likely brought about by methamphetamine use.” Rucks’ family and their legal team alleged that “police contributed to his death by agitating him and keeping his face down in the dirt while he struggled to breathe.” When commenting on the matter, John Burris, the civil rights attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the family, said, “The family was pleased about (the settlement. It was important to represent a person who was treated so poorly.”

In addition to filing the lawsuit, Burris’ firm also hired retired LAPD Officer Roger Clark, a third-party investigator. Clark “reviewed police testimony and evidence, and determined that the police use of force was unnecessary.” He also noted that “officers were putting Rucks in a full-body restraint device, known as a WRAP, when he went unresponsive.” He added:

“I see nothing in the records that justifies the use of force and restraint inflicted on Mr. Rucks by the (officers)…In addition, there can be no justification for continuing to inflict force upon a person who is already handcuffed and notifying officers that he was breathing in dirt and could not breathe.”

Attorneys for the city pushed back against the allegations and said “the pathologist who did Rucks’ autopsy testified he saw nothing that indicates (Rucks’) breathing was impaired and that it was not uncharacteristic for people who die of excited delirium to say they can’t breathe.”


Antioch police settle wrongful death lawsuit for $475,000

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Brought Against Antioch Police

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