Man Dies After Being Detained by MTS Employees for ‘Acting Erratically'

MTS officer detained the man after fearing he might walk in front of a train

A 24-year-old man died on Tuesday after he was detained by Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) employees near the Sante Fe Depot transit station downtown.

Angel Zapata Hernandez was contacted by an MTS code compliance officer at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday after the officer believed Hernandez might walk in front of a trolley or train, according to the San Diego Police Department.

The MTS dispatcher asked for SDPD assistance because one of MTS’ code compliance officers was fighting with Hernandez on the train platform near Sante Fe Depot, SDPD said.

MTS employees and witnesses described Hernandez as acting erratically and possibly under the influence, SDPD said. When the MTS employee tried to detain the man, he ran approximately 100 yards before surrendering.

When SDPD officers arrived, the MTS code compliance officer and an MTS security officer had handcuffed Hernandez on the ground. SDPD said their officers noticed the man appeared to be in medical distress and a paramedic was called, while officers gave the man first-aid.

Hernandez was taken to the hospital where he died.

The SDPD Homicide Unit was called to investigate the incident.

SDPD also added that witnesses did not see any force by the MTS employees except holding Hernandez to the ground as he kicked and screamed. 

MTS sent the following statement to NBC 7:

"MTS Security Officers have the important job of keeping bus and Trolley passengers and the public safe. They also act as ambassadors to the transit system - helping passengers with directions, purchasing tickets, responding to calls for assistance, and much more. Officers receive training in de-escalation, CPR, how to help persons with disabilities, among others. MTS has more than 200 security officers staffed to patrol the system, 10,000 security cameras, and patrolling canine teams. But one of the most important security measures is the public. MTS has a Ride Assured hotline that people can access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to report suspicious activity: (text) 619-318-1338; or (call) 619-595-4960."

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