Fontana police named in lawsuit By JOE NELSON

Originally Posted at:,1413,203~21481~1186709,00.html

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Fontana police named in lawsuit
Man denied medical care, complaint alleges

Monday, February 17, 2003 - 

FONTANA — A man who died in Fontana police custody last year after he was struck by two officers was denied immediate medical treatment, ultimately leading to his death, according to a lawsuit filed in San Bernardino Superior Court.

The lawsuit - filed Feb. 5 on behalf of the family of Ismael Banda, 41, of Fontana - alleges wrongful death and civil rights violations. It is the second lawsuit filed in his case. A federal lawsuit was filed in July.

Banda was one of three men who died within a six-month period in Fontana police custody last year.

Two claims seeking $20 million in damages each have been filed with the city on behalf of the other two Fontana men, David Michael Tyler, 37, and Fermin Rincon, 24. Tyler died in March and Rincon in June, both after struggling with police officers.

Fontana Police Chief Frank Scialdone declined to comment Monday, saying he hasn't seen the lawsuit yet. He has maintained the officers were justified in their use of force against Banda, Rincon and Tyler.

Dale Galipo, the Woodland Hills attorney representing all three victims, said a trial in the federal case against Banda has been scheduled for Nov. 18. He plans to file both federal and state lawsuits on behalf of Tyler and Rincon in the next several months.

Galipo said he expects between 20 and 30 depositions to be taken in the next 90 days from police officers, nursing staff, Scialdone, and paramedics who responded to the calls.

The latest lawsuit names numerous defendants: Scialdone, the city of Fontana, officers Michael Ernes and David Trevino, American Medical Response, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, and Southern California Kaiser Permanente.

Banda died Feb. 5, 2002, after he was subdued by Trevino and Ernes following an altercation with the two officers, who tried to pull him over in the 9100 block of Juniper Street for a traffic violation.

Banda evaded the officers, who chased him into a field and subdued him during a struggle. Trevino and Ernes struck Banda with a police radio and a gun, according to a report issued by the District Attorney's Office.

Galipo said Banda was taken to the police station, where he remained for 40 minutes before paramedics were called.

Banda was taken to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, where he died at 11:11 p.m.

"(Trevino and Ernes) said they had to stop by the station to get a camera and a tape recorder, but we're not buying that," Galipo said. "There's a lot of questions in our mind, like what happened in the 40 minutes when he was at the (police) station. We think he was taken to the station and additional blows were inflicted. That's our theory."

An autopsy report shows Banda arrived at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fontana at 6:10 p.m. and remained there until the time of his death. The report listed Banda's cause of death as internal bleeding from a lacerated spleen due to blunt force trauma. A contributing cause of death was alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver.

In January, Fontana police announced that a use-of-force expert had been retained to begin reviewing their training procedures and use-of-force policies in the wake of allegations of police brutality and the in-custody deaths.

Scialdone said the use-of-force expert, whom he and an attorney defending the Police Department have refused to identify, was hired to confirm that the department's policies and training procedures are sound.

But Galipo said he believes the expert was hired for damage control and to represent the Police Department in court.