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Family of Man Who Died After Struggle with CVPD Files Lawsuit

The Nunis family said Oral was having an adverse reaction to a medication and needed help from police, not forcible restraint, which they believe killed him.

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The family of a man who died after a struggle with Chula Vista Police Department officers is taking legal action against the department and city.

The incident occurred March 13 when family members Oral Nunis, 56, called 911 for help.

According to CVPD, family members reported Nunis was acting erratically and trying to jump out of a second-floor window. The family told NBC 7 Nunis was having an adverse reaction to a medication and needed help.

When officers arrived, a family member was holding Nunis down, according to CVPD.

At some point, Nunis ran outside and officers chased him. Detectives said the man was struggling and resisting them, injuring officers.

But attorney Carl Douglas, who represents the family, said that’s not how it happened.

“Being told that Mr. Nunis has an aversion to handcuffs, these trained killers placed handcuffs on this man that had broken no laws,” Douglas said.

Officers confirmed they used at least one restraint device on Nunis. Douglas said it was both a spit hood and a body wrap.

“Nunis was clearly in need of medical attention and was laboring from several of the officers putting their collective weight on him and him being enmeshed in this wrap device,” Douglas said.

Nunis became unresponsive and paramedics at the scene took over.

“This little man wrapped up in this device with a spit hood over his head and he’s grasping for the last breath in his body. And these officers mistaken his struggle for breath as some element of active resistance,” Douglas said.

CVPD said at that Nunis was alert and conscious when paramedics took over. Douglas and the Nunis family reject that claim. Nunis later died.

“His daughter will probably never dial 911 again. Because though she called for help, the city sent trained killers,” Douglas said.

"My father was a humble, hardworking man who loved his family. He loved his job. And he did everything he can," Nunis' daughter Naomi said during a virtual press conference Tuesday. "He typically had a plan and he would always say 'I'll soon be back,' but this time he never came back and we don’t exactly know why."

Douglas believes Nunis' race played a role.

“We say that were he not some black man, these officers would have treated him with more humanity,” he said.

The medical examiner has not determined the cause of death. A CVPD spokesperson told NBC 7 the department could not comment on the case due to the investigation being active and litigation pending.

In a June 5 press release, the department, in part, stated the following:

“After reviewing their actions, it was initially determined that the officers acted within policy and posed no undue risk to public safety and have been returned to regular duty pending the outcome of the final investigation. We are continuing to look at this case and we will continue to consider any new information that becomes available, including the conclusions of the medical examiner.”

NBC San Diego has requested the audio of the 911 call, the body camera footage and the medical examiner's report, the latter of which has been sealed.

CVPD spokesman Eric Thunberg released the following statement Tuesday:

"The City of Chula Vista understands and shares the public’s and the family’s desire to have all of their questions answered about this incident. However, it is premature and inappropriate to come to any conclusions at this time. The investigation is ongoing, and the true cause of death has not been determined by the Medical Examiner. Because of this, and now the threat of litigation, the City and the Police Department must refrain from commenting further beyond the statements already made. The City and the Police Department continue to express our deepest condolences to the family and all of those touched by Mr. Nunis’ tragic passing."

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