The State Attorney's office found no evidence of criminal negligence by Escambia County Sheriff's Office deputies in the investigation of the in-custody death of Francisco Lugo, the ECSO announced Friday.
Lugo died May 20 while in the custody of three ECSO deputies. The medical examiner found that Lugo experienced positional asphyxia, had ingested a toxic quantity of methamphetamines and was predisposed to physical morbidity factors, ECSO said.
State Attorney Ginger Bowden Madden's investigation found deputies did not deliberately deny nor were they grossly indifferent to providing medical care.
In May, Sheriff Chip Simmons told reporters the responding deputy in the incident, Leonard Carpenter, had been terminated from the department.
"I can tell you is what I saw on the in-car video, what I saw on the body cam video, is not equal to my expectations. It's not equal to the expectations of the citizens of Escambia County," Simmons said in May.
Sheriff responds to in-custody death: Escambia sheriff fired 1 deputy, investigating 2 others after in-custody death of man
As part of the announcement, the Sheriff's Office released the body camera footage of the responding deputy, who arrived at the northwest corner of W Street and Michigan Avenue after the ECSO received calls of a man acting erratically.
The 32-minute video showed Carpenter confronted Lugo, who appeared impaired. Carpenter, who struggled to handcuff Lugo until another deputy arrived, later said in the video that he handcuffed Lugo because he thought Lugo was going to run.
Within a minute of arriving, the second deputy asked if they needed to call Emergency Medical Services, and Carpenter said, "I don't think so."
The State Attorney has concluded the investigation into the in-custody death of Francisco Lugo. The State Attorney has found that there is no evidence that the deputies were criminally negligent. She found the deputies did not deliberately deny nor were they grossly indifferent to providing medical care. The Medical Examiner determined that Mr. Lugo experienced positional asphyxia, had ingested a toxic quantity of methamphetamines, and was predisposed to physical morbidity factors. As a matter of complete transparency, the Sheriff, in conjunction with this statement, has released the initial-responding/lead deputy’s body camera video. As Sheriff Simmons previously stated, the actions of the initial-responding/lead deputy did not rise to the level of Sheriff’s Office expectations. Accordingly, the Sheriff took immediate action in separating that deputy from the agency. The Sheriff also placed the two other deputies on administrative leave and then transitioned them to an administrative assignment pending the outside investigation. With the conclusion of FDLE’s investigation and the State Attorney’s Office review, an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs investigation into the incident is now being conducted to determine whether there were any violations of Sheriff’s Office rules or regulations. The two deputies will remain on administrative assignment until the conclusion of the internal investigation. “I expect our deputies to serve the community with a level of common sense and decency. We have a duty to care for those in our custody and those that we engage with. While Deputy Carpenter’s actions were not criminal, he did not meet our standards and was immediately relieved of his duty as a deputy with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.” At this time, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office does not anticipate providing additional comments due to pending litigation.WEAR ABC 3 News, Pensacola WPMI NBC 15 News WKRG WPNN Pensacola 103.7FM NorthEscambia FOX10 News Pensacola News Journal 1370 WCOA Cat Country 98.7 The Pulse Studio 850 Island Times - Pensacola Beach's Newspaper WUWF Latino Media Gulf Coast, Inc. NewsRadio 92.3
Posted by Escambia County Sheriff's Office on Friday, September 23, 2022
A third deputy arrived, and Lugo was shoved into the back of a patrol car, where he ended up on his side and could be seen breathing rapidly. Lugo was taken out again about 15 minutes into the video when the other deputies said an ambulance was needed.
"Do you want him to go to jail or go to the hospital?" the third deputy asked after pulling Lugo out of the car.
"The problem is, they're not going to accept him at the jail," the second deputy said.
Lugo was placed on his side and could be heard breathing heavily as they waited for a medical crew to arrive. About 25 minutes into the video, Escambia County Fire Rescue arrived, and after examining Lugo, they began CPR.
The two other deputies in the incident have been on administrative assignment during the investigation. Their names have not been released.
The Sheriff's Office said the two deputies would remain on administrative assignment until the conclusion of an ECSO Internal Affairs investigation to determine if there were violations of any ECSO rules or regulations.
"I expect our deputies to serve the community with a level of common sense and decency," Simmons said in a statement included in the announcement Friday. "We have a duty to care for those in our custody and those that we engage with. While Deputy Carpenter's actions were not criminal, he did not meet our standards and was immediately relieved of his duty as a deputy with the Escambia County Sheriff's Office."
Jim Little can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 850-208-9827.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: ECSO in-custody investigation finds no criminal negligence by deputies