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San Diego County pays $1.35 million to mother whose son died during 2018 arrest

Deputies used a stun gun on 29-year-old Marco Antonio Nopales and placed him in a restraining device called a "Wrap". Nopales died 36 hours later.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif — San Diego County paid $1.35 million dollars to a mother whose son died in 2018 after an altercation with Sheriff's deputies at a gas station in Fallbrook.

Public records obtained by CBS 8 show the county paid Dolores Rosales on July 5th for the death of her 29-year-old son, Marco Napoles.

According to a 2019 federal complaint, Napoles was driving from his home in El Monte in the early morning of August 16, 2018, when his car broke down on Interstate 15 near Fallbrook.

Court documents say Napoles walked to a nearby gas station and asked the clerk if she could charge his cell phone. As the phone charged, the clerk allowed Napoles to use her cell phone, according to the lawsuit. 

Attorneys for Napoles's mother, say the 29-year-old remained inside the gas station for more than an hour and was talking with employees.

When the store manager clocked in for work, the lawsuit alleges the manager told Napoles to leave and called 911.

Reads the lawsuit, "The manager told Napoles that he should leave or he should stand outside the store near the gas pumps or the parking area. Napoles stayed outside the door of the store near the gas pumps. He was not aggressive or violent to anyone and at no point did he act in any threatening manner when he was inside the store. He was simply waiting for his phone to be charged and trying to reach for friends or family to be picked up."

A Sheriff's Deputy arrived 20 minutes later and spoke to Napoles. The deputy radioed in Napoles's driver's license and was cleared. The deputy told Napoles that he couldn't stand outside and had to leave the premises.

 Warning: Some of the video content could be disturbing to some audiences.

"Napoles had no place to go, he was miles away from his non-operable car, hundreds of miles away from his home and his phone was not working either, says the 2019 lawsuit. 

Minutes later the deputy saw Napoles near the gas pumps, toward the sidewalk. 

The deputy approached Napoles but, says the lawsuit, in an agitated and aggressive manner.

Soon after, more deputies, as well as a border patrol agent, arrived at the scene. The deputies, says the lawsuit, threw Napoles down and used force on him. During the struggle, deputies fired six taser charges into Napoles's chest and back.

"The Deputies 'apparently' lost their body cams in the struggle, which ended down on the rocks recording audio but pointing the video camera away from the struggle. A bystander eye witness, however, recorded part of these incidents of force with his cell phone. [Deputies] used unreasonable force against Napoles hitting him on the ground just moments before [a deputy] decided to use his taser against Napoles unnecessarily engaging in force again."

Deputies placed Napoles in a restraining device called a "WRAP."

Reads a portion of the lawsuit, "Napoles asked multiple times for help, he told [a deputy] specifically, 'Excuse me, I need to stand up'. He could not breathe and he literally yelled to the [deputies] 'I am f….. dying.'"

Continued the lawsuit, "Napoles was not a threat...Napoles was handcuffed, he had been already tasered multiple times, he was severely injured, he was submitted on the ground, he had no weapons, he had no criminal record, he did nothing to be subject to such shameful methods of restraining and excessive force."

Soon after, his mother's attorneys say Napoles lost consciousness. He died 36 hours later. 

The medical examiner found Napoles died from "sudden cardiopulmonary arrest associated with physical exertion during law enforcement restraint and methamphetamine intoxication."

In August 2019, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan found the deputies involved "acted reasonably" and were not liable criminally for Napoles's death.

The county did not respond to CBS 8's request for comment. 

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