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News Release

Friday, March 16, 2007

Media Relations

Man Arrested for Selling Drugs Dies In Custody

Los Angeles: A 21-year-old man who led police on a short vehicle and foot pursuit went into convulsions while in custody at the Hollenbeck Police Station last Wednesday morning, March 14, 2007. Joel Alexander Vasquez died around 4:30 AM at White Memorial Hospital the same day.

“Vasquez was arrested for selling narcotics near Chester Street and Vaquero Avenue,” said LAPD spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vernon. “Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for drug sellers to swallow drugs as a way to hide it from the police, and doing that can have dire consequences.”

Two police officers from the Hollenbeck Police Station saw Vasquez make a hand-to-hand exchange in the early morning hours. When they tried to detain him, Vasquez took off in a car. The officers pursued him for one block until Vasquez abandoned the car and ran.

The officers captured Vasquez after a short foot pursuit. He gave up without any resistance.

Once at the police station, Vasquez began having seizures and attending officers called paramedics. Vasquez died at the hospital about half past four in the morning.

Officers found two packages of marijuana and nearly $1,600 in Vasquez's car.

In keeping with LAPD policy, Force Investigation Division will investigate the death. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office will issue a report after conducting toxicology analysis.