DA Clears Officers in Death of Man

September 15, 2017
By

Revere Police officers have been absolved of any wrongdoing in the death of a man on Winthrop Avenue in 2015, but state pathologists could not discount that Tasers used by police could have contributed to his death.

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley last week released the file documenting his office’s investigation into the death of Antonio Corona-Razo, who suffered a fatal cardiac arrest after he broke into a Revere apartment building, twice attempted to jump through a third-story window, and then violently struggled with responding police officers, who attempted to subdue him first with empty hands and then with Tasers when he repeatedly punched and kicked them.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Corona-Razo’s death was the result of “cardiac arrest in a person with acute cocaine intoxication, blunt force injuries and psychomotor agitation following an altercation with police involving the use of electronic control devices and physical restraints.”

Conley determined that criminal charges were not warranted in connection with Corona-Razo’s death.

“After a careful consideration of the facts and the law, I conclude that the involved Revere officers acted reasonably and lawfully,” Conley wrote in his summary report on the investigation. “The officers repeatedly tried to talk with Mr. Corona-Razo, to calm him, to get him to release his daughter, and to provide medical treatment for his injuries and emotional distress. Even prior to subduing Mr. Corona-Razo, officers arranged to have medical personnel on scene. These decisions and actions reflect a considered and conscientious response …. The police tried to control Mr. Corona-Razo using proportionate compliance techniques. There is no evidence to suggest that the police acted unreasonably.”

Conley provided the news media, Corona-Razo’s wife, and representatives of the Mexican and Peruvian consulates with copies of the investigative file, which includes 14 recorded interviews with police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel; two transcribed interviews with civilian witnesses; more than seven hours of 911 calls and public safety dispatch transmissions; 83 photographs from the scene; and 110 pages of reports, memoranda, and Taser examination results. That wholesale release of investigative materials is standard under Conley’s policy of transparency in all police-involved fatalities in Suffolk County.

The investigation, led by First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan, revealed that Corona-Razo had become extremely agitated on the night of Oct. 11, 2015, and left his Revere home followed by his 4-year-old child. He ran across the street to a different residence on Winthrop Avenue, where he broke through a large glass window next to the front entrance and began pounding on residents’ doors. Those residents and others nearby called 911, and Revere Police arrived to find Corona-Razo holding the crying child at the top of the stairway. His wife was also in the stairway, having followed him from their home.

Responding officers, including Spanish-speaking officers, called for medical assistance and repeatedly attempted to talk Corona-Razo down from his state of extreme agitation. Bleeding profusely, Corona-Razo eventually released the child but then twice attempted to hurl himself through a window at the top of the stairway. On the first attempt, his head and arms broke through the window, but his midsection slammed against the windowsill, stopping him. On the second, Corona-Razo became lodged in the window and police officers pulled him back into the stairwell.

At this point, the investigation showed, Corona-Razo became combative with the officers, punching and kicking three of them. Officer Robert Zagarella twice used his Taser and Officer Chase Herrara struck him two to three times in an attempt to subdue him. After further struggle, the officers were able to bring Corona-Razo from the narrow stairway to the second-floor landing, where they handcuffed him; when he continued to kick them with his feet, Officer Jorge Romero used his Taser. All the while, Corona-Razo continued to bite, kick, and thrash until his arms and legs were restrained.

Corona-Razo continued to struggle as emergency medical technicians – whom officers had already summoned to the scene – placed him in restraints on a stretcher and carried him down the stairs. The EMTs who treated him at the scene reported that he remained “highly combative,” and five police officers were treated for bites, cuts, and other injuries sustained in the struggle. Corona-Razo’s daughter sustained a laceration, as well.

Once in the ambulance, the investigation showed, Corona-Razo became unresponsive. The EMTs on the scene immediately began efforts to revive him and requested advanced life support services. Corona-Razo was rushed to Whidden Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased just after midnight. State pathologists observed several factors that could have contributed to his death, including the level of cocaine in his bloodstream; injuries to his liver and spleen, possibly caused during his attempts to jump through the window; and the use of Tasers to subdue him. Pathologists could not conclude with certainty, however, whether any one of these or other factors did or did not contribute to his death.

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