Dead Heat

Despite the deaths of Aaron Williams and Mark Garcia, the SFPD continues to use pepper spray on suspects who stand a good chance of dying in custody.

The ACLU's John Crew says he has generally been impressed with the SFPD's guidelines, but he points out that the department declined to adopt the ACLU's recommendation to not use pepper spray on suspects who fit the criteria for in-custody death syndrome. In fact, an ACLU report issued last June urged that the state Department of Justice "develop emergency restrictions on pepper spray to minimize exposure of people who may be at increased risk -- including drug users, asthmatics, the mentally ill and people with pre-existing heart and respiratory disease."

If that policy had been adopted by the SFPD, it might have saved Mark Garcia's life.

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