Matthew Clayton Robinson was off his medications and in the midst of a breakdown.
In the back of a vehicle transporting him from a hospital in Chico to a mental facility in Redding on a July night in 2014, he began shouting that someone was following him. He bounced and flailed inside the van, equipped with a “cage” that separated him from the front seat. He broke an interior light fixture and used shards of plastic to shred the car’s upholstery.
By the time the van arrived at Restpadd psychiatric facility, the driver had summoned police for help in removing Robinson. Within minutes, he was beaten and bloodied, pinned to the ground with a fabric “spit hood” pulled over his head. A Sacramento native and graduate of California State University, Chico, Robinson wound up in a coma and died seven days later. He was 33 years old.
The circumstances of his demise are at the center of an incendiary wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Redding and its Police Department that is making its way through federal court in Sacramento.
Beyond the question of whether officers used excessive force against someone who was seriously mentally ill, the suit raises other issues. Which agency or jurisdiction was legally responsible for Robinson when Redding police arrived on the scene? Did police cause Robinson to suffocate when they placed a spit hood over his bloodied face? And did authorities try to withhold information about what happened that night?
“We don’t want Matthew to have died for nothing,” said Larry Baumbach, a Chico attorney representing Robinson’s parents, Kathryn and William Robinson of Orland. “We want the public to be aware of what happened here and to help prevent atrocities like this in the future. We want law enforcement to start paying attention to the fact that not everyone they encounter is a criminal.”
Gary Brickwood, who represents the city, police Chief Robert Paoletti and two officers involved in the confrontation said the suit is without merit. He said police were faced with a “psychotic, crazed” Matthew Robinson and had to use force to restrain him or face injury themselves. While police were holding him down, he said, Robinson had a heart attack that ultimately led to his death.
Robinson’s cause of death, according to a coroner’s report, was “excited delirium,” a controversial medical condition that has been cited in numerous fatal encounters with police around the country in recent years.
Enjoy your Police State.
Source: The Sacramento Bee