San Diego

National City Councilmembers Urge McNeil Activists to Trust Investigation Process

Two National City councilmembers urging constituents to remain patient as investigators work to find answers regarding the in-custody death of Earl McNeil.

McNeil, 40, died 16 days after being detained by officers and his death has sparked multiple disruptive protests at City Council meetings staged by family and members and community activists demanding to see police body camera footage of the arrest incident.

Councilmembers Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and Mona Rios spoke Monday hours after releasing an updated statement on the investigation and said they're not 'choosing sides,' but rather standing by the facts and the truth. They say they trust the investigation and are willing to meet with the McNeil family after it's done.

"We feel just like them that we need answers to questions, but we also want to make sure that this is done through a thorough and full investigation that will bring back the facts," Councilmember Rios said.

Both family members and the police agree that McNeil experienced medical distress while in the custody of the police. What is unknown is what led to the need for McNeil to be treated by paramedics.

On June 11, McNeil was removed from life support at the UCSD Medical Center and died.

His family and several members of the community have held multiple protests demanding to see bodycam video from the morning of May 26.

At 5:27 a.m. that morning, McNeil used a phone outside the police department.

He "told the dispatcher that he had a warrant, was high, and wanted to kill Jesus," police officials said.

In an official statement released on June 13, National City police said that when officers came out, McNeil was "agitated, made irrational statements, and acted paranoid."

Officers said they found a controlled substance on McNeil and attempted to arrest him.

Officers restrained McNeil using a WRAP. As they were driving him to the county jail, officials said, McNeil showed distress. Paramedics were called and while he was being treated by paramedics, McNeil stopped breathing, police said.

Family members and community activists have protested at the last four city council meetings, which has led to nearly a dozen arrests.

Advocates for the McNeil family are demanding to see the medical examiners report on his death -- and to see the body-worn camera footage while he was detained.

"I don't trust National City and their process and I don't trust that two politicians who are representatives of all people, are really representing all people," Tasha Williamson, an Advocate for McNeil Family, said.

Chief Manny Rodriguez spoke with NBC 7 last week and said shutting down the meetings disrupts the business of the city.

"If you really want to have a dialogue about change, then you have that dialogue," Rodriguez said. "These people are coming in not to produce change but rather for chaos."

National City Mayor Ron Morrison said protesters used their First Amendment right to speak at a city council meeting.

"Then it became time for other people to use their First Amendment right and they said, 'No, we're the only ones that get a First Amendment right.' There's where the problem comes up," Morrison said.

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