CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County prosecutors have decided not to file any criminal charges against any of the Chicago police officers involved in the 2015 arrest of a 24-year-old man who died in police custody.
Dashcam video of the July 2015 arrest of Heriberto Godinez shows an officer placing his foot on Godinez’s neck as he is lying on the ground in handcuffs while another officer restrains him, but Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez issued a report Thursday afternoon, saying prosecutors “would be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers used excessive force in arresting Godinez.”
“Analysis of the witness statements, the physical evidence, reports of forensic pathologists, the police radio transmissions and the dashboard video recordings reveals that, at a minimum, it cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of the Chicago Police Officers in restraining Godinez were unjustified or that they were the cause of Godinez’ untimely death,” Alvarez’s office said.
Police have said Godinez was arrested after police responded to a report of a burglary in the 3000 block of West Pershing Road, and found him in a garage. According to police, officers thought he might have been mentally ill, and took him into custody when the homeowners said they didn’t know him.
During the arrest, Godinez began sweating heavily, and had difficulty breathing, police said, so officers called for paramedics. However, Godinez became unresponsive despite medical attention.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said an autopsy determined Heriberto died from cocaine and ethanol toxicity, and that “physical stress associated with restraint was a significant contributing factor.”
Citing video evidence, the autopsy report said Godinez “demonstrated agitated behavior with self-injury which allegedly continued upon placement into a transport vehicle.”
The autopsy also noted several superficial injuries, but found “there were no lethal blunt force or penetrating injuries,” and said there was no evidence of a broken neck or injuries to the larynx.
“The sudden, unexpected collapse and death of Mr. Godinez most likely represents a cardiac dysrhythmia following intense physical exertion while under the influence of cocaine and ethanol,” according to the autopsy report.
Alvarez’s office said an independent medical examiner agreed Godinez died of cardiac dysrhythmia brought on by a combination of alcohol and cocaine. The independent examination found no evidence of asphyxiation, blunt force trauma, or broken bones, according to Alvarez’s office.